An illuminating view of prison life, as told by currently and formerly incarcerated people, from the co-creators and co-hosts of the Peabody- and Pulitzer-nominated podcast Ear Hustle

In This Is Ear Hustle, Nigel and Earlonne share their own stories of how they came to San Quentin, how they created their phenomenally popular 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. With characteristic candor and humor, their moving portrayals include unexpected moments of self-discovery, unlikely alliances, inspirational resilience, and ingenious work-arounds.

One personal narrative at a time, framed by Nigel’s and Earlonne’s distinct perspectives, This Is Ear Hustle reveals the complexity of life for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people while illuminating the shared experiences of humanity that unite us all.


“A must-read for all those who seek to understand crime, punishment, and mass incarceration in America” – Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black

“This is Ear Hustle is a jewel.” —Catherine Burns, artistic director of The Moth

“I’m a big fan of these two angels of the radio, Earlonne and Nigel, whose dreamy collaboration, a conversation I love to listen in on, gives me joy and amusement, and also: hope.”— Rachel Kushner, author of The Hard Crowd and The Mars Room

“Nigel and Earlonne give voice to those whose voices have been silenced and remind us of the power of storytelling to connect and transform lives.”—Nina Jacobson, film and television producer

Illustrations from This is Ear Hustle
Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor

Authors Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor of This is Ear Hustle

Photo © 2019 by Francesca Leonardi

Nigel Poor

is the co-creator, co-host, and co-producer of Ear Hustle (PRX & Radiotopia). A visual artist and photography professor at California State University, Sacramento, Nigel has had her work exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the SFMOMA and de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In 2011, Nigel got involved with San Quentin State Prison as a volunteer teacher for the Prison University Project. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Earlonne Woods

is the co-creator, co-host, and co-producer of Ear Hustle (PRX & Radiotopia). In 1997, Earlonne was sentenced to thirty-one years to life in prison. While incarcerated, he received his GED, attended Coastline Community College, and completed many vocational programs. He also founded CHOOSE1, which aims to repeal the California Three Strikes Law, the statute under which he was sentenced. In November 2018, then–California Governor Jerry Brown commuted Earlonne’s sentence after twenty-one years of incarceration and Earlonne became a full-time producer for Ear Hustle. His efforts with CHOOSE1 continue, as he advocates for restorative justice and works to place a repeal initiative on the ballot in 2022. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.

EAR HUSTLe podcast


In 2020, Ear Hustle was named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in audio reporting — the first time the category was recognized—for bringing audiences “a consistently surprising and beautifully crafted series on life behind bars.”

Ear Hustle is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, a curated network of extraordinary podcasts. Ear Hustle won Radiotopia’s first Podquest in 2016—a search for new story-driven podcast ideas—beating out more than 1,500 international entries. 

Learn more about the Ear Hustle Podcast

Let's Keep in Touch

Sign me up for news about Biography & Memoir books and more from Penguin Random House.
Also get news about:

By clicking Sign Up, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use and understand that Penguin Random House collects certain categories of personal information for the purposes listed in that policy, discloses, sells, or shares certain personal information and retains personal information in accordance with the policy. You can opt-out of the sale or sharing of personal information anytime.


Crown is proud to partner with the unPrison Project to donate copies of This is Ear Hustle for distribution in men's, women's and youth facilities across the country.


For media inquiries related to the book, please contact Stacey Stein:

Back to top