Rachel Martens and Janette Ashfarian both felt lost after moving from Brooklyn to New Jersey with their families. But an unlikely connection brought them together—and helped them create a podcast that highlights the people and places making the Garden State home.
The duo met at a friend’s barbecue in Montclair back in 2009. There, they discovered that they had already crossed paths back in Brooklyn, when they had unknowingly bid against one another for the same apartment.
Then, years later, frustrated by the isolation of the pandemic, they talked about their hopes and dreams for the future, and Martens mentioned her desire to start a podcast. The idea for their joint podcast, Lost in Jersey, was born, and it launched earlier this year.
Martens, who tackles the sound engineering in addition to her cohosting duties, describes the podcast as New Jersey’s version of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, because the cohosts get to know their neighbors and learn about what makes them unique.
“But it’s also being witty and funny and relaxed,” she says.
Ashfarian, who manages all aspects of artwork, graphics and social media, says the podcast is modeled on the phone conversations in which she and Martens effortlessly jump from discussions about politics to home decor to parenting to careers to therapy.
Ashfarian says that, through the podcast, she and Martens have met people who strive to achieve their dreams while living in the Garden State. “It makes me love New Jersey more and more,” Ashfarian says.
Some of the guests who have joined Lost in Jersey include Montclair council member Peter Yacobellis, writer Kate Zernike, street photographer Chanda Hall, and New Jersey Monthly contributor Dionne Ford, whose new memoir explores her family’s history and her journey to find healing.
The diverse array of guests is “what makes it eclectic and fun,” Martens says, adding that they are just getting started.
Ashfarian has a vision for the podcast’s future: “I want the governor. I want every celebrity that lives in New Jersey on the podcast. Every single one of them. I want anybody who’s done big things, and also I want just regular people that we interact with every day.”