Today sees the first episode of a podcast with a big difference. A podcast made by prisoners, about life in prison, from inside the prison walls. Its name is Ear Hustle.
The podcast is the work of Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, who are both currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison doing long sentences for robbery, and artist Nigel Poor who has been working with inmates in the prison for five years.
The first episode finally airs after it last year beat more than 1,500 other podcast ideas in a Radiotopia contest to find new podcasts.
“We’re trying our best to do something that’s never been done inside a prison,” say the team.
What is ear hustling?
First of all – what’s the title all about? Ear Hustle is slang for eavesdropping, and the title is based on the fact that the podcast lets listeners peek inside the prison walls.
“It’s not a true crime podcast: we’re not trying to talk about anyone’s crime and discuss if they’re innocent or guilty,” the team told the BBC.
“We wanted to look at just the daily life of things that people do to get through their experience in prison.
“Our first story is called ‘cellies’, and it’s about how you find someone to live with in prison.”
Everything is done inside the prison walls
Nigel Poor says she hopes the this idea will show that people who are incarcerated can find meaningful work and can be productive citizens, because “all of us in order to thrive need to feel that we have a reason for being and that we have something to contribute.
People may have different things come to mind when they hear the words “San Quintin”, says the trio: maximum security, Death Row “scary guys all tatted up”, Johnny Cash. But this podcast is about everyday life. It’s not, the producers point out, Prison Break or Orange is the New Black.
Episodes will be about things like starting a family, having a pet, misguided loyalty, fashion, isolation, sibling rivalry, and (mysteriously) “mommy and daddy time.”
All of the production, editing and recording is done inside the prison walls, despite the fact that a lack of Internet access and phone calls between the inmates and Poor makes things difficult.
You can keep up with news of the series as it progresses by following the official Twitter account.