Sacramento State Photography Professor Nigel Poor has won a Jefferson Award for expanding her work with San Quentin State Prison inmates to include a podcast that provides details on daily life in the facility.
“Ear Hustle” – prison slang for eavesdropping – is produced and co-hosted by Poor and inmate Earlonne Woods, and focuses on personal stories about life “inside.” Poor produces interviews along with co-producers Woods and another inmate, Antwan Williams. Topics include what the first day in prison is like, coping with HIV, pets in prison, and how birthdays are celebrated in prison.
“Our plan is to have a real range of stories – funny, poignant, uplifting, educational – because we are trying to show what really happens inside,” Poor says.
The podcast is an offshoot of the San Quentin Prison Report Radio Project, a program that featured San Quentin inmates and was broadcast on radio station KALW. The new version allows for more personal stories.
The podcast launches in June 2017 with episodes available through earhustlesq.com and iTunes. “Ear Hustle” has proven so successful that it won an international contest to be broadcast nationwide on the Radiotopia online network (radiotopia.fm/podquest), also beginning in June.
“We are excited about the June 2017 national launch of ‘Ear Hustle’ and are working on how to have the podcast aired inside the various prisons within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,” Poor says.
Poor was awarded a local Jefferson Award this month for the podcast. The Jefferson Awards Foundation was founded in 1972 and features a number of programs focused on community leadership. In addition to national awards, the foundation awards weekly, local awards across the nation. Poor received her award from KPIX Television in San Francisco.
“I would like to think the award is for myself and the men I work with, since we produce this podcast together as colleagues and collaborators,” Poor says. “I am deeply engaged with the work at the prison. It is exciting, challenging, and fulfilling.
This isn’t Poor’s first involvement with projects at San Quentin. In 2011, she began teaching a photography history course at the prison. That eventually led to the discovery of hundreds of boxes filled with photo negatives of San Quentin from 1935 through 1986 that she has been using to chart the history of the facility and reveal unique perspectives on the images provided by current inmates.
Poor says her projects have made her more interested in prison reform and in victims’ rights as well. “I always remember that there are victims who are part of all these stories,” she says.
For more information on Poor’s many projects, visit her website at nigelpoor.com. – Craig Koscho