It's ... EARLONNE WOODS: It's -- it's a very heavy choice, but the reality of it is, she could've been right, you know? It's a story. We encourage you to do careful research and vet pen pal programs thoroughly before giving them your information. It is edited by me and Devon Taylor. But then he made a visit to the media center at San Quentin State Prison. So that was, like, really like -- like -- like, just basically giving us the game on what we were about to embark on. Learned, first, iMovies, then Final Cut Pro. Us too. A police dog is what found me. And around this time, Nigel heard about this competition called Podquest that was being run by the podcasting network Radiotopia. EARLONNE WOODS: ...Johnny Cash." It was the most devastating moment in my life. They don’t stay the same people that they were when they committed their crime. What's it like to have Michelle Obama as your mentor? “It’s out of body,” he said of getting the call from Brown’s office. This has been a learning process for all involved, and while our systems are improving, it’s still a ton of work to get each episode publish-ready. It limits everything. Because you're -- you're deprived of a lot. ALEX BLUMBERG: And you remember this conversation? And that's -- that was the beginning of my mind change, you know? And it was more about, like, we should tell longer-form storytelling, and our audience was actually the prison, you know. Ear Hustle was created and is produced as a labor of love. Jerry Brown. When Earlonne Woods was sent to prison in the late 1990s, there was a good chance he’d never walk free again. The rest of the proceeds from merch go toward supporting production of the show. Like, what did it feel -- like, I know how -- I know what it feels like to have, like, a hit podcast on the -- on the outside. ALEX BLUMBERG: From Gimlet, I’m Alex Blumberg and this is Without Fail, the show where I talk with artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, visionaries of all kinds, about their successes and their failures, and what they’ve learned from both. “I’m thinking about my mama, she’s 70. And he was like, "Ah, they don't do that no more here. EARLONNE WOODS: She was a professor of this college program called PUP, which stands for prison university project. When he’s not ear hustling, he works with Initiate Justice and the Ella Baker Center on social justice issues. He was like, "What's up, man?" So we submitted it. ALEX BLUMBERG: Did you think you guys were gonna win? ALEX BLUMBERG: What'd you -- what'd you do? Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. And hopefully, you know, through what we do, we are able to open people's minds up to something beyond a headline or something beyond that to where, you know, it's a -- it's a -- it's a story of how people got here, good or bad. Uh, being involved in assaults on fellow prisoners or assaults on correctional officers. We've updated our Terms of Service. And this was the day before Thanksgiving, meaning the next four days is not business days. EARLONNE WOODS: The software in the beginning was Garageband. The day before Thanksgiving 2018, then-California Governor Jerry Brown commuted Earlonne's sentence, and Earlonne was released from San Quentin on Nov. 30, 2018. Badge of honor, badge of success. Man, I am smoking this cigarette.". That's over. So oh damn, how do we do a podcast that, you know, is gonna be, you know, heard in front of these people and what are they about? EARLONNE WOODS: She's like, "Put in a commutation, you know? How Megan Phelps-Roper Left the Westboro Baptist Church. I'm like, "Yeah?" And, you know, we like, "All right. It’s available wherever you listen to podcasts. What would -- what would -- do you remember where you were? To date, revenue does not cover the entire cost of producing the show; PRX absorbs the extra expenses. EARLONNE WOODS: I just was sitting there thinking like, "How am I going to relay this information to his wife," you know? Like yeah, we gonna hit a million, you know? In 2019, Rahsaan “New York” Thomas joined Ear Hustle as a co-host inside San Quentin. A scheme that required Earlonne and his crew to steal a car. Jerry Brown is releasing Woods from San Quentin State Prison after two decades behind bars. All rights reserved. And we were -- and we were having -- we were pretty successful, and we had, like, some pretty, you know, pretty big shows. We gotta figure out really how to make podcasts." Golfer Tiger Woods and his wife Elin Nordegren watch play during Game 4 of the NBA final between the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers June … ALEX BLUMBERG: Coming up - Earlonne learns what so many others have learned before him. I was like, "We can do this. - Insight Garden Program, We're so glad you've tuned in for all of our episodes! Oh man. The podcast team announced Tuesday that it will hire Woods as an employee on the show. And now it's like, hold up, hold up, hold up. ALEX BLUMBERG: So you were running from the police now at this point? EARLONNE WOODS: And I'm like, -- I'm like, "Ah!". She’s holding on. And being that I was shot, the paramedics came to the scene, and as they were working on me, the paramedic said, "It don't look good for one of your friends." He still co-hosts the show with Nigel. So -- so -- so -- so what happened was, you know, in the media center, there's a phone in the media center, and somebody was like, "Hey man, they got a phone call for you. Earlonne followed him. As explained above, we are not able to directly pay the men working on Ear Hustle. - Prison University Project EARLONNE WOODS: And for me, you know, I was involved in gangs, so I just went to prison and continued the gang banging, you know, trade in prison, you know? This is hard. And, um, and I seen they had a phone on the wall. You involved in the lifestyle you always see on the news. If you like what you hear, please consider making a donation to Ear Hustle to support our production and distribution. And I was like, "That's what's up." I could still be in there, you know? But I found myself in just -- I'm talking about, like, just getting into all kinds of stuff, you know? And I would just kind of, I was very dismissive, like, "Man, shut the fuck up with that shit, man. EARLONNE WOODS: Yeah, that was -- that was -- that was -- that was interesting. It was some -- it was like a few of them. And so we launch. Would you or your company like to sponsor Ear Hustle? Nobody's liking your episode or anything. Death row? - Unprisoned, a podcast and radio show about the human impacts of incarceration You know what I'm saying? And they was like, "Well you know, that's kind of -- you know, that's like -- you know, that's like top one percent or --" I mean, you know, they was -- they was just basically giving this new dude some game on, you know, the numbers and what that mean. A person starts out life on the wrong path, a path of crime and violence. In 1988, he got arrested for one of those robberies, was tried as an adult, and sent to prison. They decided to call it Ear Hustle - prison slang for eavesdropping. So that -- that's happening. ALEX BLUMBERG: People died more outside of prison than inside. EARLONNE WOODS: But, you know, um... when I got out of prison at, after six years, three months, hadn’t learned nothing in prison. We gotta -- we gotta process the paperwork. No one answered. He also continues to contribute music and illustrations to the production of Ear Hustle, which he co-founded, and produces video content for like-minded organizations. As a pardon, as a new relationship, as a new chance at a new life. And you -- you pretty much gotta be on the yard, in the middle of the yard to get, you know, a radio station. California Gov. Want to know what we, collectively, can do about it? We appreciate listeners wanting to hear more episodes more often, but please keep in mind that producing a podcast from inside a prison (without internet or phone access) takes much more time than producing one on the outside. So when we were having all the interviews, we were just like, man, this is looking good, you know? “Once you commit your crime, people think that’s what it is, but individuals change. ALEX BLUMBERG: Have too much mail to read. And that's where, um -- it was a totally different environment, you know? Thank you so much for the interest, but to be honest, most likely, you can’t. And then, if they’re lucky, redemption comes, in some form or another. If you like Without Fail, follow the show. While incarcerated, he received his GED, attended Coastline Community College and completed many vocational trade programs. Woods learned of his commutation the day before Thanksgiving. The Ear Hustle team works in San Quentin’s media lab and from offices on the outside in the San Francisco Bay Area. - California Reentry Program You're not seeing anything. Williams, 29, has served more than 10 years on a 15-year sentence for armed robbery. - Insight Prison Project And -- and I think -- you know, with me thinking about his sons, he had two sons and his daughter that hadn't been born yet, it was like, “this guy done lost his life over some bullshit. Because in my thinking it was like, man, there's 2.2 million people in prison. Order yours today! Here are a few programs you can look into at SQSP: And I was listening to it smiling, and I say, "Do immediate mean like right now? Without Fail is hosted by me and produced by Molly Messick, Rob Szypko and Heba Elorbany. But within the next five business days you're gone." Somebody gonna, you know, really get this, you know? EARLONNE WOODS: Yeah. For the last 3 years he’s been helping inmates get their stories out in a remarkable podcast called Ear Hustle. Earlonne Woods was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. ALEX BLUMBERG: And so Earlonne started spending as much time as he could in the San Quentin media center. Does your profile change in -- in -- inside the prison as a result of this? Y'all can do your thing," you know? . Ear Hustle is supported by: Radiotopia's Julie Shapiro (Executive Producer), Amy Standen (Editor), Bruce Wallace (Senior Producer), John “Yahya” Johnson (Producer) and Erin Wade (Digital Producer). Nigel was a professor of photography there. So all we have is Nigel coming in and updating on -- us on what's happening, you know? Scary guys all tatted up? So the guy that was driving, which was one of my co-defendants, he take off. EARLONNE WOODS: Of course, I have to -- you know, looking back, I have to blame myself for getting out there, you know, getting into the criminal activities. EARLONNE WOODS: I just was sitting there thinking like, "How am I going to relay this information to his wife," you know? EARLONNE WOODS: Okay. And continued on that path for years. Listen to the rest at spotify.com/themichelleobamapodcast. ALEX BLUMBERG: And Earlonne did get back into it. “He commuted my sentence to be released forthwith, immediately, right now, it’s time to go, time to walk out that gate,” he added, laughing. You know, the little promo was cool. They then broke down these episodes and I'm like, wow. And, you know, we were sitting there and we was talking and, you know, we was just trying to figure out like, you know, what is the, you know, what is successful, you know, downloads. Jerry Brown (D) has commuted the prison sentence of Earlonne Woods, whose hit podcast Ear Hustle explores life inside San Quentin State Prison. He even started reading up on government codes to figure out how to reform California’s three-strikes law. I hope it's not true. Real life doesn’t usually follow that template too closely. So we can continue to try to learn this stuff." So I went through this whole process, and a year ago on the day before Thanksgiving, I got the call from Governor Brown's office. And so it was a Snap Judgment. MISGUIDED LOYALTY CLIP: I was in my homeboy’s house when the phone rings.