Ear Hustle

Ear Hustle Podcast

Ear Hustle brings you the daily realities of life inside prison, shared by those living it, and stories from the outside, post-incarceration. The podcast is a partnership between Nigel Poor, a Bay Area visual artist, and Earlonne Woods, formerly incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, and was co-founded with San Quentin resident Antwan Williams. The Ear Hustle team works in the San Francisco Bay Area, both in San Quentin State Prison’s media lab and from offices on the outside, to produce stories that are sometimes difficult, often funny and always honest. Episodes offer a nuanced view of people involved with the American prison system and those reintegrating into society after serving time.

I Want the Fairy Tale
How does dating work in your 30s when you’ve been locked up since you were 15? How soon do you share your incarceration history with new love interests? And how the hell does online dating work? Recently released men and women muse about all of it, and one former San Quentin inmate tries to make a beeline from the gates to the altar. Thanks to Article and the American Red Cross for sponsoring this episode. For a full list of credits and to find out more about the show, head to earhustlesq.com, where you c...

Kissing the Concrete
Serving a prison sentence is hard, but getting out isn’t exactly a cakewalk, either. A lot depends on who’s waiting for you, what you have lined up on the outside and how you handle the regular pressures of life after incarceration. Thanks to Article and the American Red Cross for sponsoring this episode. For a full list of credits and to find out more about the show, head to earhustlesq.com, where you can sign up for our newsletter and order a T-shirt, sticker pack or mug. Ear Hustle is a proud member of...

Respect the Paper
Hardly anyone writes letters anymore. On the streets it’s all texting, posting, sharing and liking. But in prison, pens, paper, envelopes and stamps are highly prized, and still considered an essential lifeline to the outside world. Thanks to Article for sponsoring this episode. For a full list of credits and to find out more about the show, head to earhustlesq.com, where you can sign up for our newsletter and order a T-shirt, sticker pack or mug. Ear Hustle is a proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX....


Excuse Me on the Tier
Ear Hustle is back with season four! Let’s get oriented: to a new format and a new inside host, and through the stories of guys learning the prison ropes in Reception, while they wait to find out where they’ll serve their time. A heads-up: This episode contains graphic descriptions of violence. Listener discretion is advised. Thanks to HelloFresh for sponsoring this episode. For a full list of credits and to find out more about the show, head to earhustlesq.com, where you can sign up for our newsletter a...

Season four preview
Ear Hustle is back with season four, starting June 5. Mark your calendars and tell your friends!...

Road Trip
Ear Hustle will return with season four later this year, but in the meantime, here’s a timely bonus episode. Nigel and Earlonne hit the road and drive south to interview the man who commuted Earlonne’s sentence in November: Governor Jerry Brown. Thanks to Governor Jerry Brown and Evan Westrup, Governor Brown’s press secretary, for sitting down with us. Ear Hustle is produced by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods with help from outside producer Pat Mesiti-Miller, who also comes in to lead the sound design team....


P.S. Asking and Giving
As the annual Radiotopia fundraiser wraps up, we bring you one final missive of the year, including an appeal for support, a chance encounter and a musical offering from the inside. What a season! Deep thanks to our listeners, to Dwight Krizman, Richie Morris and the other guys from Quentin Blue, and as always, to Lt. Sam Robinson and Warden Ron Davis for their epic support of Ear Hustle. And to Radiotopia, the network that brought Ear Hustle to life! Donate here to support Radiotopia, and all of the shows...

Bittersweet
In prison, life’s major milestones usually pass at a distance. In our season three finale, Earlonne gets up close to a big one, while his brother’s family struggles with having missed out on too many. A heads-up: This episode contains discussion of suicidal thoughts. Listener discretion is advised. You can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Thanks to Trevor Woods, Tyra Woodson and Lee Jaspar (aka Matthew Lee Jasper) for sharing their stories with us. Ear Hustle is pr...

Big News: It's Time
Earlonne and Nigel got some big news earlier this week, from the office of California Governor Jerry Brown. Stay tuned for more information about what’s next for Earlonne, and Ear Hustle, in our next episode....


Prime Real Estate
Despite the additional hurdles involved, daters in prison fall into the same categories as daters on the outside: romantics, hopefuls and players. Thanks to Charlie Srey, Sincere Carter, Kevin Turner, Mo, Allyson West and Jessie Ayers for talking to us for this story. Ear Hustle is produced by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods with help from outside producer Pat Mesiti-Miller, who also comes in to lead the sound design team. This episode was scored with music by David Jassy, Antwan Williams, E. Phil Phillips,...

The Big No No
When you’re incarcerated, falling in love with prison staff or volunteers is prohibited. But… it happens. And it happened to Erin and Lisa, who then had to negotiate the joys and pitfalls of romance inside San Quentin. A heads-up: this episode contains discussion of domestic violence — listener discretion is advised. Thanks to Allyson West for talking with us, and to Erin for talking twice. Ear Hustle is produced by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods with help from outside producer Pat Mesiti-Miller, who also...

Catch a Kite 3
A “kite” is prison slang for a written note, and since Ear Hustle launched we’ve encouraged listeners to send in their questions about daily life inside San Quentin, via postcards, or kites. In this episode, we answer a handful of kites received via voice messages from listeners, touching on spectacle, humor, mental health, laundry and more. A heads-up: this episode contains graphic descriptions of violence — listener discretion is advised. Thanks to Rahsaan “New York” Thomas for helping out with this epi...


This Place
This time on Ear Hustle we’re trying something different: we’re diving into San Quentin’s 166-year history. Normally, we get the guys inside to tell stories. But this place itself does speak, and it’s not always through words. A heads-up: this episode contains graphic descriptions of violence — listener discretion is advised. Thanks to George “Mesro” Coles-El, Richard Richardson aka Bonaru, John Robb, Norman Willhoite, Gregg Sayers, Lee Jaspar (aka Matthew Lee Jasper), Lt. Sam Robinson and Warden Clinton ...

Future on Ice
Being an immigrant in an American prison can pose unique challenges, like deciding which racial group you’ll identify with. But sometimes the biggest hurdles don’t become apparent until the day you are released. Thanks to Martin Gomez, Miguel Sifuentes, Wayne Boatwright, Phoeun You, David Jassy, Borey Ai (aka PJ) and Marco Villa for sharing their stories with us. And thanks to Jose Diaz, Vicente Gomez and Gerardo Sanchez-Muratalla, the Three Guitarists. Ear Hustle is produced by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Wo...

Birdbaths and a Lockbox
During a San Quentin lockdown, the prison grinds to a halt, and men are confined to their cells 24 hours a day. On the heels of a summer lockdown, we’re kicking off season three by looking into what causes one, and how guys survive the wait when boredom, uncertainty, hunger and isolation can push them over the edge. A heads-up: this episode contains discussion of suicide and self-harm — listener discretion is advised. You can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Thanks ...


Season three preview
Ready for more stories about life inside? We bet. Season three of Ear Hustle drops September 12. In the meantime, enjoy this taste of what’s to come. Find out more about the show at earhustlesq.com, including how to send us a question (by postcard) that might get answered in a future episode. Ear Hustle is a proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX....

So Long
Leaving an organization or community often calls for an exit strategy – even in prison. In this final episode of season two, four men who are preparing to leave San Quentin share stories about what they’ve learned on the inside, and their aspirations, big and small, for life on the outside. Thanks to Chayne Hampton, Gus Lumumba Edwards, Michael Thompson, and Anouthinh Pangthong, aka Choy, for sharing their stories with us. Learn more about Re:store Justice, the organization that Choy now works for. Ear H...

Down Low
Of the thousands of people incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, no one is openly gay. No one. And only a few people are comfortable enough to talk about LGBTQ life inside. In this episode we dive in: Lady Jae returns to talk about living as a woman in SQ, and another inmate, who identifies as bi-sexual, shares his story. Thanks to: Lady Jae and Mike Adams for sharing their perspectives on LGBTQ issues, all the guys who talked to us in the yard, and to White Eagle for telling us about the sweat lodge a...


The Row
San Quentin houses California’s only death row for male inmates. And though it’s technically not far from the media lab, access to this area of the prison is highly restricted. Still, Earlonne and Nigel figured out a way to reach out to the guys there, and interviewed three men about daily life on death row. Thanks to: Kevin Sawyer for recounting his memory of the execution that took place at San Quentin in 1999, Father George Williams and Rabbi Paul Shleffar for sitting down with us in the media lab, Stev...

Catch a Kite 2
A “kite” is prison slang for a written note. Since Ear Hustle launched, we’ve encouraged listeners to send in their questions about the show and life inside via postcards, or “kites.” In this episode, Earlonne and Nigel dig into the pile of 1021 (!) postcards that have arrived from all over the world. So many people contributed to this episode: Thanks to all the men in blue and volunteers who tried to guess the most common question we get asked. Thanks to Kevin Sawyer for talking books; Adnan Khan, Eddie H...

Thick Glass
Parenting is never easy, but from prison it's especially challenging. In this episode, incarcerated fathers share their stories of striving to be present in their children's lives. One inmate reconnects with his son after 20 years. Another stays very involved through letters and visits. And a third gets the opportunity to give his teenaged son a haircut. Thanks to the fathers who shared their stories: Derrick, John and Maverick, and to Derrick Jr. for talking with us. Thick Glass was scored and sound desi...


The Workaround
Looking good and feeling good matters just as much on the inside, as on the outside. But in prison, you can't just walk to the barbershop, or stop by the store for the products you need, to accomplish either. In this episode, guys share their favorite workarounds that help them feel more human in prison, both physically and mentally. Thanks to David Jassy, Wall Street, Jason Jones, Jesse Vasquez, Andres Yancey, Lady Jae, Eric Durr, Mesro Coles-El and Nicola Bucci for sharing their workarounds. This episode...

Dirty Water
Sex trafficking crimes are hard to talk about. In this episode, Sara and LA share their individual experiences of being “in the life,” at the same time demonstrating the difficult, yet important work of restorative justice. Thanks to Sara Kruzan and Anthony Avil Scott (aka LA) for sharing their stories and for coming together to talk. You can read more about restorative justice and Sara’s work, here. Ear Hustle is produced by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods, with help from outside produce Pat Mesiti-Miller ...

Firsts
“Firsts” in prison can be especially memorable: the first time you meet your cellie, or leave the prison for medical treatment, or run your first marathon. Alongside these tales, Adnan Khan shares the story of his first visit from his mom, 13 years after he was incarcerated. Thanks to Adnan Khan for sharing his story and Shane, Michael Thompson, Rahsaan Thomas, Jason Jones and Antwan Williams for also sharing their firsts. Ear Hustle is produced by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods. Outside producer Pat Mesit...


Season two preview
Ear Hustle is back March 14th! To tide you over until then, here’s a taste of season two. Find out more about the show at earhustlesq.com, including how to send us a question (by postcard) that might get answered in a future episode. Ear Hustle is a proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX....

Ear Hustle Bonus: Songs From S1
Music is an important part of Ear Hustle, and there are many talented musicians in the San Quentin community. Listeners responded so enthusiastically to the music in season one, we’ve highlighted a few of the songs and musicians who performed them, in this bonus episode – just in time for the holidays. Thanks to the these guys for contributing their musical talents to season one of Ear Hustle: “Trying to Carrying On” was written by Richie Morris and performed by Richie Morris, Dwight Krizman and Charlie S...

Getting a Date
There are only a few ways to leave prison: serve your time, get out early on parole... or escape. Steve, Danny, Phillip and Ron are all trying to make their way out of prison. In our final episode of the season, these men share their stories of going through the parole hearing process, and contemplate life on the outside after being incarcerated for decades. Big thanks to Steve Wilson for telling his story, and to  Danny Plunket, Phillip Melendez and Ron Self for sharing their parole board experiences. ...


Gold Coats and OGs
Dealing with aging and death is never easy. But in prison, these issues are fraught with extra challenges, both emotional and physical. Meet two inmates serving extended sentences who grapple with the idea of dying in prison, and have also stepped up to take care of their fellow aging prisoners. Thanks to Lonnie Morris, Richard Lathan and Andres Eric Watson, for sharing their stories. And special thanks to Anthony Marzett for being on the receiving end of of Andres’ shit talk. Ear Hustle is produced by Ni...

Left Behind
“I’m a stupid idiot who stole some money.” Curtis Roberts was sentenced to 50 years to life, under the three strikes law, for committing three non-violent robberies. Over the years he has struggled to maintain a sense of hope in a situation many would consider untenable. Big thanks to Curtis Roberts for sharing his story. And shout-outs to the many guys who showed up in yard talk: Michael Hudley, Stacy Bullock, Douglas Abado. Kevin Schrubb, Fanon Figgers Demitris McGee, James King, Mark Barger, Richard “We...

Unwritten
The color of your skin influences your life in prison, from sharing food to celebrating birthdays. Meet Andrew Sabatino (Drew Down) and Arthur Snowden (AR), two guys whose close friendship often challenges the unwritten rules of race relations on the inside. Thanks to Drew Down and AR for sharing the story of their friendship. It’s a big deal to talk about race in prison, so thanks also to Lonnie Morris, Lemar, Phil Melendez, Wayne Boatwright, Charlie and George “Mesro” Coles-El for stepping up. Ear Hustl...


The Boom Boom Room
Being married in prison is common. Opportunities to get intimate with your spouse are not, and – like everything else inside – are governed by both official and unofficial rules. In this episode of Ear Hustle, Greg and Maverick share stories about keeping their relationships strong, and getting close with their wives. Thanks to Maverick and Greg Eskridge for sharing such personal stories with us, and to our guest sound designer, the “Swedish Phenom,” David Jassy. Ear Hustle is produced by Nigel Poor, Antw...

Catch a Kite
“Kite” is a common term in prison for a written note. Over the course of the season, listeners have been encouraged to send in their questions about Ear Hustle via postcards, or “kites.” In this episode, Earlonne and Nigel dig into the pile of postcards that have arrived from all corners of the world, with some help from guys in the yard. You’ll also hear from a familiar Ear Hustle voice — the man who approves all stories for publication, Lt. Sam Robinson. Thanks to the following San Quentin inmates for he...

The SHU
The hole, the box, solitary confinement. It doesn’t matter what you call it; doing time in the SHU (Security Housing Unit) means you are alone and segregated from the general prison population. In this episode, four men who served between 8 and 28 years in the SHU share their memories of that time. Thanks to Armando Flores, Gus Lamumba Edwards, Richard Johnson and Isaac Flores for telling their stories, and to John YaYa Johnson for assisting with this episode. Ear Hustle is produced by Nigel Poor, Antwan ...


Looking Out
The need to nurture and show love for another living being (or, in San Quentin parlance, “looking out”) is an essential human impulse. Away from your family and friends in prison this can be difficult, if not impossible. Sure, guys create strong bonds among themselves that help to alleviate the pain of missing family. But like on the outside, some people inside just relate better to animals than people. Thanks to Rauch for sharing his story, and to the guys who contributed to the Yard Talk segments in this...

Misguided Loyalty
Tommy Shakur Ross grew up in South Central Los Angles in the 1980’s. As a boy, he was seduced by what he saw as the “glamour” of gang life. Thirty years later, he is still paying the price for giving his most to a gang that ultimately brought the kind of fame he wishes he’d never earned. Ear Hustle is produced by Nigel Poor, Antwan Williams and Earlonne Woods with consulting editor Curtis Fox, outside production advisor Pat Mesiti-Miller and executive producer Julie Shapiro. Thanks to Tommy Shakur Ross fo...

Cellies
At San Quentin State Prison, the typical cell measures approximately 4’ x 9’ and contains a bunk bed, toilet, sink, two men, and their six cubic feet of belongings. In our first episode of Ear Hustle, hear stories of negotiating this space and the relationships that come with living in such close quarters....


Meet Ear Hustle
Ear Hustle brings you stories of life inside prison, shared and produced by those living it. The podcast is a partnership between Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, and Nigel Poor, a Bay Area artist. The team works in San Quentin’s media lab to produce stories that are sometimes difficult, often funny and always honest, offering a nuanced view of people living within the American prison system....