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Assault Your Ears – July Podcast Review

Welcome to Assault Your Ears, a monthly column dedicated to podcasts.

By Jess Ong.

If there’s one thing you need to wrap your ears around, it’s Ear Hustle – a new podcast about stories of life inside San Quentin State Prison in California. There have been plenty of TV shows made attempting to depict life behind bars but Orange Is The New Black, this is not. 

Ear Hustle, prison slang for eavesdropping, is created, recorded and produced within San Quentin’s walls by Earlonne Woods, who’s serving 31 years-to-life, and Antwan Williams, who’s serving 15 years. Nigel Poor, an artist who works at the prison, joins Woods as co-host, which creates an illuminating dynamic when the two navigate the realities of inside versus outside assumptions and naiveties. 

The first episode explores the challenges of sharing a four by nine foot space with a fellow inmate; we hear of one prisoner terrorised for six months by his cellmate who continuously threatened to kill him, while another hated his cellmate watching The Young and the Restless, as the theme music brought back memories of his father beating his mother. 

Ear Hustle is beautifully produced from San Quentin’s media lab, and despite the different life paths taken by Woods and Williams compared to Poor, it’s obvious a sensitive and genuine partnership exists. Each episode of Ear Hustle needs to be given the all-clear by prison officials prior to release, so the fact it feels as intimate as it does is a real testament to the team.  

Ear Hustle is funny, endearing, mesmerising, and, at times, difficult to listen to. I recommend reading more about Ear Hustle, and those involved, on the podcast’s website –

You can listen to Ear Hustle on iTunes or your favourite podcast app.  

Jess Ong works as a Communications Manager in the arts and the private sector, and is also the Creative Producer of local storytelling night, SPUN. She is the host of the SPUN Stories podcast and moonlights in the world of freelance. 



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