NPR launches new show Invisibilia

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Spiegel and Miller

NPR announced Tuesday that it will launch a new radio show about human behavior early next year.

The show, Invisibilia (Latin for “all the invisible things”), will debut Jan. 9, 2015, and will consist of six weekly hourlong episodes in the pilot season.

Invisibilia will be produced by NPR’s Science Desk and hosted by Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller, who have both played key roles in two popular public radio programs. Spiegel was a founding producer of This American Life, and Miller played the same role with Radiolab.

The six pilot episodes will be available as a podcast, and segments will air on NPR’s newsmagazines. Spiegel and Miller will cover topics including the significance of people’s dark, disturbing thoughts and how fear affects people’s actions, according to NPR.

“Each program is scientifically rigorous, jumping right to the heart of the latest psychological and brain research,” said Anne Gudenkauf, senior supervising editor of the Science Desk, in a press release. “Alix and Lulu show us how what scientists know sheds light on what we experience. Invisibilia anchors its examinations with intimate accounts from real people living at the boundaries of our understanding of that new science.”

The launch of a new show fully produced by NPR marks a shift in editorial direction. In May, when NPR canceled Tell Me More, Kinsey Wilson, then NPR’s chief content officer, told Current that the future of new shows at NPR was in collaboration, similar to the arrangement behind the TED Radio Hour, and not with NPR taking on production by itself.

“I think that’s what we would look to do for new shows going forward,” Wilson said. “The idea that we can go it entirely alone is one from a different era.” But Wilson departed in October, and NPR President Jarl Mohn told Current then that a new show was slated for January.

Invisibilia is a departure from more recent NPR shows such as Ask Me Another and Jazz Night in America, which have focused more on entertainment. Invisibilia, on the other hand, will be newsy but entertaining.

Invisibilia will introduce you to people and ideas you’ve never encountered before,” Spiegel said in the release. “We profile these very unusual people because their experiences allow us to look more closely at the invisible forces that shape us all — things like fear and empathy.”

Update: Read Current’s feature on Invisibilia to hear more from the hosts about where the show idea came from and how they plan to make it stand out.

  • David Othmer

    No doubt a lot of thought went into choosing the name Invisibilia, I suggest, however, that you keep thinking.

  • Steve Lev

    I absolutely love Invisibilia. It is a trememdous, spetacular show. I’ ve listened to of
    episodes. The topics have all been just fascinating. Alix and Lulu are incredible hosts. The interplay between them is adorable as are each of them.
    I was horrified to see on an NPR website that what I’ve heard are ‘pilots’ and that only 6 episodes are schdeled for now. After the cancellatioof my favorite tv shows ( Heroes, Fringe and The Mentalist ), I dont know if I could take it if Invisibilia isn’t picked up for more episodes.

  • Brad Davis

    Please tell me that “Invisibilia” will return ! …. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE !!!!!!!!