It was so popular last year that we decided to do it again! Join us this holiday season as we introduce you to twelve of our favourite podcasts in the 12 Days of Podmas!
For Podmas, I couldn’t help but highlight Ear Hustle, a Radiotopia-produced podcast which follows the lives and experiences of inmates at the San Quentin correctional facility in California, and touches on topics both familiar (celebrating holidays, dating, pets) and unfamiliar (lockdowns, California’s Three Strikes Law, the title of the show which is slang for eavesdropping) to listeners. Helmed by producer Nigel Poor and San Quentin resident Earlonne Woods, the show delves deep into the world of incarceration and seeks to shed light on this microcosm of society.
READ MORE: Shock Waves – 12 Days of Podmas
Through the show we get to put human voices to the unseen thousands incarcerated; we feel their pains and joys and hear their hopes for the future, even when the prospect of them leaving San Quentin is all but for naught. Episodes have vacillated from stories of abuse to the joys of marrying in prison and the logistics of conjugal visits, to the layered intricacies of food as currency.
The show’s strengths truly lie in its personal relationships and the bonds that form between the presenters and the inmates; the friendship between Woods and Poor is a notable highlight as the pair navigate a working relationship that rapidly becomes a friendship and then a full-blown partnership in the fourth season when Woods’ role as inside correspondent was taken over for the most joyful reason: Woods was pardoned and released.
The experiences outlined aren’t universal truths for every prison and every resident, but they provide a window into a world little spoken about and yet incredibly relevant to the human condition. Don’t hesitate to check out the four-and-counting seasons of Ear Hustle and its plethora of stories, secrets, and even songs from the inmates themselves; they remain poignant reminders that even behind bars, we all share the same needs, hopes, and dreams – and that maybe, with enough understanding and a listening ear, we might just achieve them too.