Ear Hustle: Flipping the Script on Prison Stories

Behind the scenes with the hit podcast from San Quentin State Prison

Now in its ninth season, the award-winning Ear Hustle podcast, from PRX’s Radiotopia, shares stories of daily life inside prison, and post-incarceration, from the perspective of those living through these experiences. Co-hosts and co-founders, Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor and executive producer, Julie Shapiro, illuminate the creative process that fuels Ear Hustle and challenges listeners to reconsider everything they think they know about incarceration in the USA.

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.

In 2020, Ear Hustle was named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in audio reporting — the first time the category was recognized — for bringing audiences “a consistently surprising and beautifully crafted series on life behind bars.” In 2021, Ear Hustle received an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for “shatter[ing] the myths about serving time and what happens afterwards.” Ear Hustle has also received honors from the Third Coast International Audio Festival, the Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, and is a two-time Peabody Award nominee.

Earlonne and Nigel are also the authors of This Is Ear Hustle: Unflinching Stories of Everyday Prison Life, a book inspired by the podcast  and published by Crown/Random House. The San Francisco Public Library selected the title for its One City One Book citywide community reading program in 2022.

Ear Hustle is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, a curated network of extraordinary podcasts. Ear Hustle won Radiotopia’s first Podquest in 2016 — a search for new story-driven podcast ideas — beating out more than 1,500 international entries. Today, episodes have been downloaded nearly 60 million times. The show is also broadcast to incarcerated communities, including in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation institutions and in the U.K. in collaboration with the Prison Radio Association.