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KSL's 'Hosts of Eden' provides a snack-sized escape from reality

KSL's 'Hosts of Eden' provides a snack-sized escape from reality

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SALT LAKE CITY — Like a fireside chat bottled up and released into the podcast world, radio host-turned-storyteller Jay MacFarland takes listeners on a journey to the "Hosts of Eden."

Season two of the podcast wastes no time in transporting the listener into a world where Edenites are transferred into human hosts on Earth. Early on, one rogue actor seems to be killing people and inhabiting their bodies along the way.

Suspense builds as main characters Marian, Mason, Johnny and U.S. President Ronald Filmore are joined by special agent Colby. All of them work together to piece together clues about the mysterious killer.

Through it all, MacFarland reimagines the traditional Judeo-Christian origin story.

"In redefining where we come from, you almost have to redefine religious symbols," he said. "It's not intended to be like a commentary on religion at all."

The series is the unlikely brainchild of MacFarland who ruminated for four years on the first season before he aired his first episode, because he thought he wanted to write a book instead. Riding on the wave of the recent resurgence of the popularity of podcasting, MacFarland took the idea of a fiction podcast to KSL Newsradio, and to his delight, it was greenlighted.

Although he has gotten used to feedback and criticism in his years as a radio show host, MacFarland was daunted by how others might perceive his show.

"I felt like a child, you know, in a corner sucking on my thumb going 'Oh please,'" he said.

MacFarland was pleased with how fans received the podcast. Now, in a word, he feels "encouraged," and said he's, "having fun now as opposed to being nervous."

"Hosts of Eden" season two saw about 5,000 podcast downloads on the day the season was released in early March and has seen 57,200 downloads total. Overall, the series that launched in 2017 has been downloaded 154,200 times.

"It's amazing to have these characters bouncing around in your head, and then have people actually come up to you and want to talk to you about these characters that, you know, that kind of developed in your mind," he said.

Unlike many other story podcasts that are scripted, MacFarland creates an outline for each "bite-size" episode, preferring to engage in storytelling, "kind of like I'd be sitting, talking to you," he said.

Most episodes are between 10 and 20 minutes long, creating a situation where one can enjoy the episodes in snack-sized portions, or binge listen at their leisure.

Within the next six months, MacFarland expects he will release the third season. And he doesn't have plans to stop from there. He also is developing six separate storylines outside "Hosts of Eden," so fans will have plenty with which to whet their appetites.

"I want to keep surprising people. I want to develop these characters to a whole different level," MacFarland said.

So far this season, those surprises are working. The podcast is being downloaded at twice the rate as the first season. As a self-described "binge writer," MacFarland knows he will not stop writing once he starts. And listeners will be in for a ride.

Hosts of Eden can be found on Apple podcasts under the modern radio drama section and on KSLNewsradio.com.

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