Foxboro native writes chart-topping podcast in LA
This photo was taken in the studio where Foxboro native Jeff Baker’s podcast was recorded. Baker is on the left on the couch, next to producer Elliot Wolf. In the foreground, director Shawn Christensen is sitting at the table talking to “Hunted” star Parker Posey.
Town native Jeffrey Baker has for years enjoyed writing, including for TV shows, and has now branched off into a medium that is growing in leaps and bounds.
Baker, 34, who lives in Los Angeles, has written a chart-topping podcast for Dick Wolf, best known as the creator of TV’s long-running “Law & Order” franchise of shows, and Endeavor Audio, a podcast network. It’s Baker’s first podcast.
A podcast is an episodic series of digital audio files that a user can download, and the market for podcasts has been steadily growing.
Baker’s podcast, “Hunted,” is a fictional story about U.S. Marshals, whose main job is to capture the country’s most dangerous fugitives. When four convicts escape from a maximum-security prison, the main character, a female deputy, is called in to pursue the criminals on one of the most treacherous and violent manhunts in U.S. history.
“Wolf Entertainment came to me with a basic concept for the story, and we went from there,” Baker said.
The series is said to play out like an old-time radio drama.
Starring as Deputy Marshall Emily Barnes is Parker Posey, an American actress and musician who frequently works with Christopher Guest and has appeared in several of his mockumentaries.
“Hunted” hit the Top 10 on the Apple Podcast charts during its premier week.
The podcast series has received rave reviews.
“The Guardian” newspaper praised Baker’s writing, noting: “the script is tight, allowing the fast-moving plot to grip listeners.”
Fast Company, a monthly American business magazine, lauded the series’ ability to be “expansive and intimate at the same time,” adding, “listeners might find themselves sucked in, not just by the crime story, but by the aural environment each episode creates.”
And Vulture, an entertainment website, named it “the perfect mini-binge for your listening pleasure.”
Is Baker taken back by the success of the podcast?
“I’m not surprised exactly because I saw all the hard work everyone put into it, but I am very happy that it has found an audience,” he said.
Baker is also getting in on the ground floor of the podcast medium that is now attracting top entertainment personalities such as Conan O’Brien.
“It’s exciting as a writer because it’s a whole new way to entertain people. Audio dramas used to be very popular back in the radio days but then they kind of went away for a long time, so it’s interesting that they’re being made again,” Baker said.
Before his latest work, Baker was a staff writer on the long-running drama “Law & Order: SVU” and has written two plays, “Temples” for the Actors Art Theatre, and “Assume the Worst” for the UCLA New Play Festival.
Of course it’s a feather in Baker’s cap to write for Wolf, an award-winning writer, director and producer who also is responsible for the “Chicago” TV shows. Wolf has won an Emmy and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“It’s great!” Baker said of working with Wolf. “He’s a giant in the industry and so good at what he does — I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”
On top of that, Endeavor Audio, which is broadcasting “Hunted,” is an audio-first entertainment studio and podcast network that features some of the world’s most innovative creators and storytellers.
While Baker grew up in Foxboro, he attended Wheeler School in Providence, and left Foxboro around 2004 to head off to Skidmore College in upstate New York.
“I was always a big reader, then in college I had some great professors who encouraged me to start writing,” Baker said.
Of course, it isn’t the easiest business to be in.
“It is competitive for sure,” Baker said. “There are so many talented people and voices out there. But at the same time, I think the internet is opening up a lot of new avenues— like streaming, podcasts, even YouTube — for those voices to reach people.”
Baker says he plans to remain in Los Angeles and just continue writing.
His parents, John and Betsy Baker, still live in Foxboro.