Unload Your Stress: “Chatting with Cumberland” to Debut

From left: Beth Thomas, Matthew Johnson, Job Wan Kenobi (pronounced JAY-OBEE), Frank Carozza
by Ahmad Graves-El

Cumberland County is the home to a new podcast and its goal is to connect community leaders, local government officials, and other professionals with area residents.

The new show, called “The Chatting With Cumberland Podcast,” was created by Frank Carozza, youth services administrator and Children’s Inter-Agency Council Coordinator with the Cumberland County Department of Human Services.

“Chatting with Cumberland Podcast is, first and foremost, an open forum for people to share what’s going on with the community,” Carozza explains. “It’s a place where [the] community instantly engages professionals.”

The idea came about when Carozza learned that there’s a group of county leaders and officials from multiple organizations, including judicial and care service professionals, who meet regularly to discuss the business of Cumberland County.

The youth services administrator soon discovered that these meetings were open to the public. However, many of the county’s residents did not or could not attend for a variety of reasons, including lack of transportation.

“Chatting with Cumberland is my attempt, as an administrator, to bring the meeting to [the public],” Carozza says. “It’s about unity, bringing people together during tough times.”

The new podcast, which has partnered with the C.I.A.C.C. and Hopeloft, as well as being sponsored by the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders, will be shown on YouTube. Some of the episodes in this limited public engagement series will be livestreamed and include question and answer segments.

One of Carozza’s hopes is that by connecting residents with community leaders and professionals via the podcast, those residents and their children will learn more about programs and services the county provides.

The show will “be covering raw and unfiltered stories from within the Children’s System of Care.”

Other weighty subjects that’ll be broached on the podcast include autism, domestic violence, addiction, employment challenges, and more. Carozza says one of the goals of the show is to give residents a safe space to share their own personal stories, freely.

“You can say what you feel, without fear of persecution,” he says. “It’s an open forum for ideas and speech and if something is pertinent to you in our community, we want to hear about it. Let’s talk about it.”

Carozza divulged some unique aspects of the show and how it’s going to connect the general public with county leaders and others.

“We’ll have a feature, what I call the Inbox, where you can take your phone, shoot a video … with your question and then text it to us or email it to us,” he explains. “And that can go up live [on] the show and we can take your questions.”

For those who are concerned about having their faces seen on this public forum, they can send in their questions anonymously and will still receive a response.

Although some of the aforementioned topics are pretty heavy, Carozza wants the public to know that all subjects are on the table to be discussed and they don’t all have to have a serious tone.

“It can just be, hey, I just want to come and kick it with y’all and just chop it up a little bit. That’s kind of the vibe. It’s like the cookout,” says Carozza. “I want to have a professional platform that’s backed by leaders who genuinely show interest and care about our community, but I don’t want it to feel like a produced vibe.”

The podcast, which is initially scheduled for five to seven shows, will run for 30 minutes, and will be hosted by Beth Thomas, unit coordinator for Special Child Health Services with the Cumberland County Health Department, and MC’d by Carozza.

The inaugural episode can be seen on The Chatting With Cumberland Podcast YouTube channel at around 10 a.m. on Monday, July 20.

Since the show is all about sharing, listening, and learning from each other, Carozza has one request for Cumberland County’s residents.

“I’m a person that loves a good story,” he reveals, “and if the public has one, [or] if they know somebody who knows a good story, share with us. Our ears are open at all times.

“You got a story? I’m a sucker for a story.”

For more information about The Chatting With Cumberland Podcast or the Cumberland County Department of Human Services, visit co.cumberland.nj.us/humanservices or call Frank Carozza at 856-459-3083.

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