What’s it called?

Ear Hustle

What’s it about?

Life behind bars. Specifically, the bars holding prisoners at the legendary San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco, once home (if that’s the right word) to Charles Manson, Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver and Sirhan Sirhan, Robert F Kennedy’s assassin. What’s particularly unusual about this podcast – and what makes it so gripping – is that it’s made by prisoners, and recorded and edited within the prison. The podcast launched in 2017 with Cellies, an episode devoted to the etiquette of sharing a cell that measures just four feet by ten and into which are crammed two men, two bunks, a sink and a toilet. Two of the inmates interviewed are Amiel and Eddie, who as well as being cellmates are also brothers – not that that stops them arguing.

Who’s in it?

The three co-presenters are Earlonne Woods, serving 31 years to life for attempted (!) robbery; Antwan Williams, serving 15 years for armed robbery; and Nigel Poor, a female artist and photographer, and a professor at California State University. Williams does the sound design – the prison has what’s known as a “media lab” – while Woods acts as interviewer-in-chief and also functions as a guide of sorts for Poor, who narrates much of the show.

Best bits so far?

The episode devoted to music inside San Quentin is fascinating. Meet Redbone, beat-boxer extraordinaire and the prison’s “mouth music maestro”, and listen to him perform his prison rap Two Wheels, a hymn to his bike.

Fun fact …

In November 2018, Earlonne Woods had his sentence commuted, in large part because of his work on Ear Hustle.

For fans of ...

Orange Is The New Black, Porridge, Johnny Cash At San Quentin.