Hosted By: Earlonne Woods & Nigel Poor
Produced By: Radiotopia
Ear Hustle launched in 2017 as the first podcast created and produced in prison, featuring stories of the daily realities of life inside California’s San Quentin State Prison, shared by those living it. Co-founded by Bay Area artist Nigel Poor alongside Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams — who were incarcerated at the time — the podcast now tells stories from inside prison and from the outside, post-incarceration.
Ear Hustle Podcast Hosts:
Nigel Poor is a visual artist whose work explores the various ways people make a mark and leave behind evidence of their existence. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and can be found in various museum collections including the SFMOMA, the M.H. deYoung Museum, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. She is also a professor of photography at California State University, Sacramento. In 2011, Nigel got involved with San Quentin State Prison as a volunteer teacher for Mount Tamalpais College (formerly the Prison University Project). She is also the co-author of This Is Ear Hustle: Unflinching Stories of Everyday Prison Life (Crown Publishing).
Earlonne Woods was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. In 1997, he was sentenced to 31-years-to-life in prison. While incarcerated, he received his GED, attended Coastline Community College and completed many vocational trade programs. He also founded CHOOSE1, which aims to repeal the California Three Strikes Law, the statute under which he was sentenced. In November 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown commuted Earlonne’s sentence after 21 years of incarceration. Upon his release, Earlonne was hired by PRX as a full-time producer for Ear Hustle, and he continues to work with Nigel, contributing stories about re-entry. He is also the co-author of This Is Ear Hustle: Unflinching Stories of Everyday Prison Life (Crown Publishing).
Praise from Listeners*:
- Raw and Authentic: Listeners appreciate the unfiltered and honest portrayal of life in prison, providing a genuine understanding of the challenges faced by incarcerated individuals.
- Personal Stories: The podcast humanizes the inmates, sharing their personal stories, struggles, and triumphs, which allows listeners to connect with them on a deeper level.
- Insightful Interviews: The interviews conducted by the hosts reveal the complexities of prison life, exploring a range of topics such as relationships, redemption, rehabilitation, and the impact of incarceration on families.
- Empathy and Understanding: Ear Hustle fosters empathy and understanding by shedding light on the common humanity that connects us all, breaking down stereotypes and challenging preconceived notions about prisoners.
- Creative Production: The podcast is praised for its high-quality production, immersive sound design, and storytelling techniques, making it an engaging listening experience.
- Educational and Eye-Opening: Ear Hustle provides valuable insights into the complexities of the criminal justice system, offering a nuanced understanding of the impacts of incarceration on individuals and communities.
Criticisms from Listeners*:
- Lack of Objectivity: As the podcast primarily features the perspectives and stories of incarcerated individuals, some critics argue that it may lack a balanced or objective view of the criminal justice system. They contend that alternative viewpoints, such as those of correctional officers or victims, could provide a more comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand.
- Limited Focus: Some listeners have expressed a desire for the podcast to explore a broader range of topics beyond San Quentin State Prison. While the focus on one facility allows for a deeper dive into its dynamics, some individuals wish to hear about experiences in different prisons or aspects of the criminal justice system outside of San Quentin.
- Insufficient Critique of the System: Certain critics argue that the podcast doesn’t go far enough in its critique of the prison system itself. They contend that a more rigorous examination of systemic issues, such as racial disparities, privatization, or the impact of mandatory sentencing, could enhance the podcast’s analysis of the broader criminal justice landscape.
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