The Garden State Guys
Two friends, a podcast, and a Jersey diner tour
By Kate Morgan

Josh Chomik and Josh Sobocinski (aka Sobo) are used to having an audience. As teenagers in the mid-2000s, they both developed YouTube channels. Sobo’s goofy skits and vlogs earned him a near-6-figure following, and Chomik’s song parodies made him a celebrity to his 1.3 million subscribers. 

Now, a decade and a half later, the pair have a new fanbase on social media and streaming platforms thanks to their popular podcast “The Garden State.” It’s a project a very long time in the making. 

“We both were kind of early YouTube adopters, I guess you’d say, making videos and all sorts of silly content for teenagers and kids,” says Sobo, 29. But sometime in the 2010s, the shine wore off for the 2 friends. 

“I ran my channel for over 10 years,” adds Chomik, 30. “It became a little stagnant, and I kind of outgrew the character I was playing in those videos. I ended up just taking on more career choices. I went back to school and started becoming a freelance videographer for other people.” 

But Sobo and Chomik stayed close. “It was a very natural friendship because we both liked the same stuff,” Chomik says. “We were in high school when we met, and we’ve been hanging out ever since.”

And for most of that time, they were looking around for their next great idea. 

“We used to hang out in Chomik’s garage, and I would come over and always say to him, ‘Dude, there’s got to be an idea that could actually be the next thing for us,’” says Sobo. Late in 2021, inspiration finally struck. “We were sitting together and I said, ‘Hey, you know, I have the Instagram handle @thegardenstate. What if we used that to make a New Jersey-based thing?’” Chomik loved the idea.

It didn’t begin as an actual podcast, but rather with short-form clips posted to Instagram and designed to mimic a podcast recording session. “We would find interesting facts about New Jersey, and then we would kind of stage it like a podcast, give the fact and talk about it in 60 seconds to 3 minutes,” Sobo says. “And then people started to say to us, well, we really would like a full-length podcast. So we kind of worked backwards into a podcast.”

Sobo and Chomik have developed a strong social media following, with more than 320,000 followers and 6 million likes on TikTok. 

“Once we started posting using hashtags like #NewJersey, #NJ, #NJnews, it just popped off almost immediately,” says Chomik. They went a bit viral, thanks to a story about New Jersey’s classic blue license plates potentially making a comeback. “I think we got maybe 5,000 likes and I don’t know…50,000 views,” says Sobo. 

Chomik, who’s been working in social media marketing, understands the power of a multi-platform brand. That’s what he’s hoping The Garden State will be – not just a podcast, but a movement. 

“I don’t want the podcast to just be on one platform,” he says. “I want it to be on all the platforms. There’s a way to connect them all. We’re seeing what’s working and what’s not working, and that’s how it’s been since day one in podcasting. I think that’s why we’ve been successful, and that’s why I think we’re growing still.”

And what’s definitely working is diner reviews. Sobo and Chomik have been traveling the state, eating at diners and giving their honest opinions to the delight of their listeners. 

“People love diner reviews because going to a diner is such a uniquely Jersey experience,” Sobo says. “People really seem to like that local hotspot stuff. We’re trying to review as many diners as possible.”

Hearing the pair give their opinions on each diner is entertaining, especially when their opinions differ – which is pretty often. 

“If we go to a diner with really good coffee, Chomik is like, ‘This isn’t a diner,’” jokes Sobo. “He wants Folgers with the ground beans from 10 years ago. I’m like a hipster. I’m interested in coffee and want a fancy cup.”

But while the hosts’ reviews might clash, diners are one of the great equalizers for a diverse listenership. 

“Our state is small but super diverse,” Sobo says. “People living in Camden or Hamilton are completely different than Bergen County people, but you can really reach so many different types of people so easily just by going to diners.”

Other episodes have highlighted how truly different South Jersey can be. Chomik was amazed, he said, to learn about the existence of the Cowtown Rodeo in Pilesgrove, which claims to be the longest running weekly professional rodeo in the country. 

“Long story short, we ended up going this summer and made a whole video about it,” Chomik says. “It was like the coolest experience ever.”

“It felt like we left the state,” adds Sobo. 

The pair plans to pursue a lot more South Jersey stories in the future. “This is actually a running joke on our podcast,” Sobo says. “South Jersey people say we don’t talk enough about South Jersey. And then people in North Jersey say we don’t talk enough about North Jersey. That’s kind of our argument that Central Jersey does exist, because well, you other guys are both mad at us.”

For a long time, Chomik and Sobo would be recognized in public for their YouTube antics. Sometimes that still happens but now, more often, people are recognizing them as the guys from The Garden State. 

“We’re really proud of it,” Sobo says, “and we’re continuing to connect with people in the state. We went to the polar plunge in Seaside Heights, and it was so much fun to just connect with local people who knew our podcast. A few people came down to meet us and jump in with us. It’s special because it’s growing really large, but it’s so community-oriented because it’s still local.”

And it’s making an impact, Chomik says, far beyond the borders of New Jersey.

“What’s also really cool is we have listeners from all over the country and the world,” he says. “I got a message from a person in Colombia a few weeks ago being like, ‘Hey, I moved down to Colombia a few years ago, but I’m originally from Jersey. I listen to you guys every week because it brings me back home.”  

June 2023
Related Articles

Comments are closed.

The Battle Against Blight Continues | THE GOAL IS TO BECOME A GARDENER

Get SJ Mag in Your Inbox

Subscribe for the latest on South Jersey dining, weekend entertainment, the Shore and much more - sent directly to your inbox.

* indicates required
Email Format
WATCH NOW: Millennials looking for Mentors