Meet Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor, Authors of This Is Ear Hustle

San Mateo County Libraries welcomes the co-hosts of the podcast Ear Hustle, opens a new window, Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods, on Thursday, September 28 at 6:30 PM for a tell-all about their new book, This Is Ear Hustle.

Join us to hear their stories and their journey. Bring your questions, as there will be a live Zoom Q&A. Bruce Wallace, Ear Hustle executive producer, will host this discussion.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll receive your Zoom invitation.

From Prison to Podcast to Pulitzer Finalist

How do you turn a humble idea into a Peabody- and Pulitzer-nominated podcast?

When Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods met, Nigel was a photography professor volunteering with the Prison University Project (now Mount Tamalpais College, opens a new window). Earlonne served thirty-one years to life at California’s San Quentin State Prison. Despite neither having podcast production experience, they entered Radiotopia, opens a new window’s contest for new shows—and won, standing out among over 1,500 entries. Using the prize for seed money, Nigel and Earlonne launched Ear Hustle, named after the prison term for “eavesdropping.” It was the first podcast created and produced entirely within a prison. It would go on to be heard millions of times worldwide, garner Peabody and Pulitzer award nominations and help earn Earlonne his freedom when his sentence was commuted in 2018.

In This Is Ear Hustle, Nigel and Earlonne share their stories of how they came to San Quentin, how they created their top-rated podcast amid extreme limitations and what has kept them collaborating season after season. They present new stories, all with the same insight, balance and rapport that distinguish the podcast. In an era when more than two million people are incarcerated across the United States—a number that grows by 600,000 annually—Nigel and Earlonne explore the full and often surprising realities of prison life.

Get to Know Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods

"Earlonne was the one who would speak up, cut through all of the baloney and get to the point. And so to me, that meant he was a very good observer. He understood human nature. And he understood how to diffuse a situation. And I thought, well, those are kind of qualities that you need to be able to bring people out". —Nigel Poor

Nigel Poor is the co-creator, co-host, and co-producer of Ear Hustle. A visual artist and photography professor at California State University, Nigel has exhibited her work nationally and internationally, including at the SFMOMA, opens a new window, the de Young Museum, opens a new window in San Francisco and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, opens a new window in Washington, D.C. In 2011, Nigel got involved with San Quentin State Prison as a volunteer teacher for the Prison University Project.

Earlonne Woods is the co-creator, co-host, and co-producer of Ear Hustle. In 1997, Earlonne was sentenced to thirty-one years to life in prison. While incarcerated, he received his GED, attended Coastline Community College, completed many vocational programs, and founded CHOOSE1 to repeal the California Three Strikes Law, the statute under which he was sentenced. In November 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown commuted Earlonne’s sentence after twenty-one years of incarceration and Earlonne became a full-time producer for Ear Hustle.

Praise for the This Is Ear Hustle

"In this unforgettable book, Nigel Poor, Earlonne Woods and a range of fascinating people generously share their prison stories, inviting readers to understand human struggle in an inhumane system via humor, contemplation and community." —Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black

“This Is Ear Hustle is the bildungsroman of one of the most influential pieces of art, broadcast journalism and reportage to ever come out of a prison. Nigel and Earlonne have created a soundscape that is as inventive as it is provocative, and their book shows why we ear hustle and why, somehow, sometimes, it makes us feel like we were there." —Reginald Dwayne Betts, author of Felon

"This Is Ear Hustle is a jewel. Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods are gifted storytellers, and their ability to draw intimate, authentic stories out of others is extraordinary. With grace and humor, they walk through what life is really like behind bars, showing the humanity and depth of those they meet inside." —Catherine Burns, artistic director, The Moth, opens a new window