Cover art for podcast Ear Hustle

Ear Hustle

93 EpisodesProduced by Ear Hustle & RadiotopiaWebsite

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-fo… read more

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93 Episodes | 2017 - 2022

Meet Ear Hustle

May 25th, 2017

4:01

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, …

Cellies

June 14th, 2017

23:33

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 …

Misguided Loyalty

June 28th, 2017

27:36

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 …

Looking Out

July 12th, 2017

23:47

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 …

The SHU

July 26th, 2017

28:26

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 …

Catch a Kite

August 9th, 2017

28:03

“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 …

The Boom Boom Room

August 30th, 2017

28:19

Being married in prison is common. Opportunities to get intimate with your spouse are not, and – like everything else inside – are governed by both …

Unwritten

September 13th, 2017

30:00

The color of your skin influences your life in prison, from sharing food to celebrating birthdays. Meet Andrew Sabatino (Drew Down) and Arthur …

Left Behind

September 27th, 2017

35:19

“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 …

Gold Coats and OGs

October 11th, 2017

24:05

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 …

Getting a Date

October 25th, 2017

33:27

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 …

Ear Hustle Bonus: Songs From S1

December 20th, 2017

22:35

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 …

Season two preview

February 28th, 2018

5:06

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 …

Firsts

March 14th, 2018

39:03

“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 …

Dirty Water

March 28th, 2018

36:02

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 …

The Workaround

April 11th, 2018

32:51

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 …

Thick Glass

April 25th, 2018

35:39

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 …

Catch a Kite 2

May 9th, 2018

32:14

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 …

The Row

May 23rd, 2018

42:22

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 …

Down Low

June 6th, 2018

33:22

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 …

So Long

June 20th, 2018

41:36

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 …

Season three preview

September 5th, 2018

5:54

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 …

Birdbaths and a Lockbox

September 12th, 2018

38:21

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 …

Future on Ice

September 26th, 2018

40:02

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 …

This Place

October 10th, 2018

38:35

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 …

Catch a Kite 3

October 24th, 2018

30:04

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 …

The Big No No

November 8th, 2018

36:27

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 …

Prime Real Estate

November 21st, 2018

37:21

Despite the additional hurdles involved, daters in prison fall into the same categories as daters on the outside: romantics, hopefuls and players.

Big News: It's Time

November 24th, 2018

4:59

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.

Bittersweet

December 12th, 2018

45:08

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 …

P.S. Asking and Giving

December 17th, 2018

6:01

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 …

Road Trip

January 16th, 2019

14:29

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 …

Season four preview

May 29th, 2019

4:17

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

Excuse Me on the Tier

June 5th, 2019

35:21

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 …

Respect the Paper

June 20th, 2019

35:36

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 …

Kissing the Concrete

July 3rd, 2019

30:20

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 …

I Want the Fairy Tale

July 17th, 2019

41:57

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 …

Inside Music

August 1st, 2019

44:31

I think we can all agree: It’s high time we devoted a full episode to the music of San Quentin.

Thanks to all of the musicians who talked with us …

Snack Money

August 14th, 2019

40:55

Running a prison takes a lot of work, and not just by the staff running the place. At San Quentin inmates work regular jobs, earn pennies on the hour …

Life Shows Up

August 28th, 2019

37:55

Getting a job after serving time is crucial to rebuilding your life, but a criminal record inevitably gets in the way. Four people share stories about how their time inside both helped prep them for jobs outside and …

Catch a Kite 4

September 11th, 2019

32:26

Sleep, soundtracks and signing in prison — the Ear Hustle crew tackles questions from listeners about these topics and more, in this season’s “Catch a Kite” episode. Plus, we’ll share some of our favorite …

Chicken on the Bone

October 2nd, 2019

41:11

Historically, death sentences in California have led to eventual execution by the state. But these days, public opinion and state protocol are in …

Tell Christy I Love Her

October 16th, 2019

43:55

Tom was a cop; Jason was a teenager in a gang. One night in 1997, they had a violent encounter that Tom describes as “inevitable.” In our season …

Ear Hustle Extra: Antwan Williams, Journeyist

November 15th, 2019

22:49

Surprise! In this season four bonus episode, Earlonne sits down with Ear Hustle co-founder and sound design contributor, Antwan “Banks” Williams, who was recently released from San Quentin after serving 13 years in …

A Message from Ear Hustle

November 27th, 2019

5:59

Back in 2016, our podcast network, Radiotopia, made the Ear Hustle dream a reality. In honor of Radiotopia’s annual fundraiser, Nigel and Earlonne dream a little about what other podcasts they might make one day.

To …

Ear Hustle Extra: In It for the Long Haul

February 20th, 2020

11:12

In honor of the launch of “Over the Road,” Radiotopia’s new show about long-haul trucking, Earlonne and Nigel talk with a formerly incarcerated truck …

Myths & Monikers

March 4th, 2020

39:35

In prison, almost everyone has a nickname, and whether true or not, nearly every nickname has a story behind it. If that story is good enough, it might just become the stuff of legend.

A heads-up: This episode contains …

Locked Down Again

March 18th, 2020

41:32

As the Coronavirus pandemic locks down parts of America and the world, we revisit an episode from 2018 about how the San Quentin community manages a prison lockdown.

During a San Quentin lockdown, the prison grinds to …

Us and Them

April 1st, 2020

56:08

The relationships between incarcerated people and the correctional officers who guard their prisons are often as bad as you might expect. But …

Sorry Means Nothing

April 15th, 2020

53:00

One crime is treated differently than all others, both inside and outside prison. People who commit sex crimes against children are often ostracized, abused by fellow inmates, and deemed beyond rehabilitation. On this …

Hold That Space

April 29th, 2020

46:24

Four women share their stories of loving incarcerated men, and the challenges they face in maintaining their relationships, staying hopeful about an …

Catch a Kite 5

May 13th, 2020

43:12

Every season we answer questions from listeners in our Catch a Kite episode. This time around, formerly incarcerated people lend their experiences and lessons learned to a group of kids currently incarcerated at a …

Tired of Running

May 27th, 2020

46:11

Hollywood loves stories about fugitives on the run, but in reality that lifestyle is anything but glamorous, especially for those who get pulled in …

Nobody Comes Back

June 10th, 2020

56:17

Getting out of prison means freedom, but this liberation often comes with caveats. In our final episode of the season, three formerly incarcerated people describe the unwelcome surprises that were waiting for them on …

Ear Hustle Extra: Summer Listening

July 22nd, 2020

33:06

Ear Hustle will be back with new episodes starting September 9. In the meantime, we talk with people experiencing the COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin and other California prisons, firsthand. Plus, we’re not the only …

The Gray Goose

September 9th, 2020

51:26

Being incarcerated doesn’t always mean staying in one place. Ear Hustle kicks off Season Six with stories from inside the vans and buses that carry people to and between prisons.

Thanks to Lt. Sam Robinson and Acting …

The Christmas Boxes

September 23rd, 2020

52:14

Six cubic feet. That’s how much stuff each incarcerated person in California is allowed to have in his or her cell. The few personal objects you keep with you in prison are precious. But what’s left behind can be just …

The Great Ear Hustle Cook Off

October 7th, 2020

45:37

For our first-annual Ear Hustle Cook Off, four formerly-incarcerated people replicate meals they used to make inside their cells, using only the …

Are You Listening?

October 21st, 2020

44:27

Incarceration doesn’t just separate a parent from his or her child, it changes that relationship forever, often leaving wounds that may never heal. We talk with kids who have incarcerated parents, as well as a formerly …

On Stage in Chicago

November 11th, 2020

1:35:06

Back before the pandemic, Nigel and Earlonne joined Jenn White (WAMU’s 1A, formerly WBEZ) on stage in Chicago for a conversation about how Ear Hustle came to be and some of the show’s most memorable moments.

As always, …

Crew No. 7

November 25th, 2020

45:26

Incarcerated people have long played an important role in firefighting in California. Now, in the middle of the state’s worst fire season on record,

The Trail

December 9th, 2020

52:26

In 1990, Leonard attacked a female hiker off a trail along the California coast. Three decades later, we hear the rest of the story, and explore what accountability and survival really look like.

Warning: This episode …

The Bells

December 23rd, 2020

1:00:08

One in five incarcerated people in the U.S. has tested positive for COVID-19, and here in California, more than 100 people have died in prison. In our final episode of Season 6, we hear three stories from the California …

Ear Hustle Presents: Suave

February 17th, 2021

37:18

While we work on our next season, launching March 3, we’re excited to introduce you to a new podcast series that we love, and think Ear Hustle fans will too. “Suave,” from Futuro Studios, tells the story of a man …

Sugarbutt's a Snail

March 3rd, 2021

46:54

A lot has happened since we got behind the mics to record Ear Hustle’s first season. As we begin our seventh, we catch up with three people whom listeners first heard from inside San Quentin, and hear about the twists …

Hot Trash

March 17th, 2021

48:50

Visiting a loved one in prison is both emotionally intense and constrained by countless rules – from how much PDA is too much PDA, to what kind of …

Marcel and Angie

March 31st, 2021

30:01

Marcel and Angie each spent years in prisons determined by the gender on their birth certificate, not the one they identify with. Being trans in prison comes with complications — from where you live to personal safety — …

Lifer Bakery

April 14th, 2021

41:38

A small Israeli bakery in downtown San Francisco has offered first jobs to dozens of lifers just out of prison. Four employees share their stories of adjusting to life on the outside while working at Frena Bakery.

As …

Catch a Kite 6

April 28th, 2021

45:31

Can you have an Xbox in your prison cell? Is it OK to say “inmate”? How have stimulus checks affected the prison economy? Ear Hustle listeners have …

The Whole Shabang

May 12th, 2021

44:11

Toothpaste, ramen noodles, sneakers, coffee creamer. If you want to shop from prison, it’s either the commissary or a prison-approved package catalog. These packages offer a connection to the outside world, but …

Cracked Windshield

May 26th, 2021

41:44

A year after George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer, the Ear Hustle team and friends talk about their first interactions with cops, …

Home for Me Is Really a Memory

June 9th, 2021

1:06:43

Leslie has served more time in prison than anyone we’ve ever interviewed on the show: over half a century, for a crime committed when she was 19. …

Ear Hustle Presents: Life Jolt

August 11th, 2021

37:52

With just a few weeks to go before Ear Hustle returns with Season 8, we wanted to introduce listeners to a new show that’s been in all of our …

Coming Soon: 50 Years After George Jackson

August 25th, 2021

2:11

Ear Hustle’s eighth season launches on September 8th with a dramatic account of one of the most notorious days in San Quentin’s history: August 21st, 1971. By sundown, three guards and three incarcerated people lay …

August 21, 1971

September 8th, 2021

55:20

August 21, 1971 was the deadliest day in San Quentin history, and it’s still a painful topic, both inside the prison and out. At the center of the …

Do It Movin’

September 22nd, 2021

49:37

We bring you stories about the ups and downs of making bail and the bittersweet taste of freedom when you know you’re about to lose it. Plus: Nigel confronts a man with no regrets, and Ear Hustle says goodbye to a …

Stormy Monday

October 6th, 2021

56:32

At Ear Hustle, we hear more from listeners about music than almost any other topic. In response, we bring you the Ear Hustle Mixtape, including stories about an unlikely instrument that’s been showing up on the yard at …

Taxx Is Tripping

October 20th, 2021

55:03

What does it take to be bonnaroo in prison? We explore the creative ways people inside transform and beautify their physical selves and their living environment, using whatever they can find within prison walls.

As …

Counting Lines

November 3rd, 2021

54:04

Going to prison in your home country can be disorienting enough. What about when you’re new to the culture, don’t speak the language, and are …

Yard of Dreams

November 17th, 2021

53:34

Sports in prison are more than just games. They can be an outlet for stress, the realization of dreams deferred, or a positive way to prove oneself to peers and family. In this episode, one player battles for acceptance …

Tray, Tumbler, Spork

December 8th, 2021

54:48

Earlier this year, some of the Ear Hustle team spent a month living under a specific set of constraints informed by the daily routines of our inside …

Camp Grace

December 22nd, 2021

39:59

This past fall, we followed a group of kids into Salinas Valley State Prison to spend two days with their dads, whom they hadn’t seen in years. …

Ear Hustle Presents: Written Off

December 29th, 2021

33:45

While Ear Hustle works on its next season, which starts March 2, we wanted to introduce you to the podcast Written Off. It features formerly incarcerated young writers talking about their journeys and creative …

Ear Hustle Extra: A Call from Sacramento

January 26th, 2022

4:46

We’re between seasons but have an exciting update to share with listeners: Our friend and colleague Rahsaan “New York” Thomas’ prison sentence has …

Ear Hustle Extra: Making Trouble

February 23rd, 2022

6:20

Sometimes, when you’re up against a big state institution, you have to make some trouble. For this mini-episode, part of Radiotopia’s winter fundraiser, we share a few stories about incarcerated people trying to effect …

15 Minutes

March 2nd, 2022

19:47

In California and many other states, calls from prison are limited to 15 minutes and are monitored, recorded, and often difficult to come by. But …

Boots and Max

March 16th, 2022

27:17

We talk about love on Ear Hustle, plenty, but it’s hard to think of prison as a “romantic” place. What does dating look and feel like, on the inside? Against all odds, sometimes true love prevails.

As always, big …

Is Your Name Alfredo?

March 30th, 2022

36:12

Six massive murals span hundreds of feet across the walls of a San Quentin chow hall, depicting the history of California in epic scale and detail. Residents of San Quentin eat their meals surrounded by this artwork, …

Gabrieleen Silver Queen

April 13th, 2022

42:31

What happens to a prison town when its main prison closes? The residents of Susanville, in Northern California, are about to find out. Ear Hustle took a road trip to see how Susanvillers — both inside and outside the …

What Is This?

April 27th, 2022

38:41

Life in prison, without regular sex and intimacy, can cause all sorts of emotional and physical issues. Yep, we're going there — to explore the …

Catch a Kite 7

May 11th, 2022

37:47

This season we're flipping the script on our traditional Catch a Kite episodes, exploring questions asked and answered between San Quentin State Prison and the California Institution for Women. Do men in prison form …

Last Memory: Michael

May 25th, 2022

29:26

The day before committing the crime that sent him to prison, Michael stood in a parking lot in Bakersfield, California, and looked up at the sky. Twenty-two years later, Earlonne and Nigel visit that same parking lot, …

Last Memory: Ryan and Earlonne

June 8th, 2022

50:59

The jig was up for Ryan, so he told police he’d turn himself in. His mom had one request: a final family meal at Applebee’s. Plus, Earlonne and Nigel …

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