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San Quentin’s “Ear Hustle” Podcast Makes History, Receives Praise

by Monte McCoin

Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, both incarcerated at California’s San Quentin State Prison, made broadcasting history by creating “Ear Hustle” – the first podcast from behind prison walls.

The nine-episode first season of “Ear Hustle” has made quite a mark with the media. According to an October 23, 2017 article in the Mercury News, the podcast has been featured in Rolling Stone, Columbia Journalism Review, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, the Financial Times and even Vogue. Sarah Larson, a New Yorker staff writer, said “Ear Hustle” may be “the best new podcast I’ve heard this year.” More than 1,000 postcards have come in from listeners with questions, comments and accolades about the show.

“When we began talking about this, somebody had to tell me what a podcast was,” Woods said. He and Williams, along with volunteer outside adviser Nigel Poor, work long hours to produce the digital audio files that can be downloaded from the Internet for listening. “We’re trying to do a podcast that talks about everyday life in prison, and to do stories that show the people inside in a more realistic, three-dimensional way,” said Poor. “That includes the people incarcerated as well as the people who work here.”

Williams added, “We want to paint an [aural] picture for those who have never been inside a prison, they can almost put together the picture themselves through the sounds.”

“Ear Hustle”--taken from slang for eavesdropping--is one of 20 shows on the podcast network Radiotopia. The first episode has been downloaded more than a million times, and the creators said there has been no censorship by prison officials. 



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