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Tune In to Ear Hustle: A Podcast You Need Right Now

23 Jun

I’m late to the podcast game (as I am with most tech trends). But after I did my final round of the I’d like to cancel no thats still too expensive oh wait you can do it for basically free siriusxm waltz, I needed something to get me to daycare, work, daycare, and home again. So I picked up listening to podcasts. My current favorite is Ear Hustle, which I find fascinating and complex and eye opening. So I figured I should review Ear Hustle.

Ear Hustle is produced inside San Quentin State Prison in California. And no, it’s not stories of how the residents became inmates, but rather stories of the lives they are living inside prison. Yes, I said lives they are living. 

Growing up in, and now living in, Siberia suburbia, my most robust knowledge of prison life comes from Shawshank Redemption, Law & Order (original and SVU), the classic Nicolas Cage features The Rock and ConAir, and brief clips of Scared Straight caught while channel surfing. To summarize, I have zero idea of what prison is like. (And no, I won’t do the cliche “I totally have a friend who’s been to prison!” like people do when discussing diversity.)

Which is probably why I find Ear Hustle so fascinating. It reminds you that prisons are full of people. And for the most part, outside of the fact that each show needs to pass the smell test of the San Quentin Public Information Officer, it’s pretty real. Real stories of real people doing real-life things.

The part I’m most intrigued by is how the residents at San Quentin have formed a community. It’s like there is this town that’s similar yet so very different from where I live yet it’s a town all the same. I don’t know why I’m surprised by the fact that the prison has formed a community; the inmates are human after all, and humans tend to be pack animals (as well as creatures of habit).

What makes Ear Hustle easy to listen to is that the stories are presented without being prejudiced or sympathetic to the person’s crime and reason for incarceration. The podcast simply doesn’t cover that part of the story. Instead, it focuses on what it’s like for the dad who is incarcerated with his son, the unwritten race rules in prison, the San Quentin marathon, and the challenges of roommates in prison. (Apparently, in the last case, dividing the room in half like my sister and I did around age 11 just isn’t an option.)

So, regardless of your views on our prison system, I would encourage you give Ear Hustle a listen. You never know, you just might learn something.

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