I can’t remember where I first heard about Ear Hustle, or when I started listening, but I do know that I have been hooked since the beginning. This podcast gives a rare insight into the lives of incarcerated people through conversations with inmates at San Quentin State Prison (and recently, as COVID protocols prevent visitors from entering the facility, with previously incarcerated people). The stories told are heartwarming, heartbreaking, anger-inducing, and everything in between.
I’d recommend starting from the beginning so you get to experience the story develop over time, but a stand-out episode that’s a great taster (pun intended) is episode 47 “The Great Ear Hustle Cook Off” – a Masterchef-style format show in which each formerly incarcerated contestant has $30 and the limitation of only being able to purchase foods that were available in the prison commissary. It’s definitely one of the lighter episodes of the series, but still has its poignant moments when the guests share memories of their time being incarcerated.
Ear Hustle goes a long way towards humanising those people who are often demonised in our society. Often, the incarcerated people telling their stories were convicted and sent to prison as teenagers. Victims themselves of poverty, racism, and classism, the stories they tell inspire the listener to want to fight for prison reform and wider societal change.
“Heartwarming, heartbreaking, anger-inducing, and everything in between.”