Changing the Culture: The New Voices of the 412

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Hosted by
Zachary Smith

I am a Beaver County native, lover of all teams that wear the black & gold with a passion for podcasting and writing.

Let me start out by saying this is going to be a totally different article than any of the ones I’ve written to this point. It is going to be much more personal than anything I’ve put out. We are going to take a deep dive into my greatest passion and shine a light on the reason I am hell-bent on turning this passion of mine into something bigger. We will talk about my own ambitions, as well as the others who are continuing to change the culture of sports media in the 412.

Sports and I

Like a lot of people, sports have been a huge part of my entire life. From playing them in my younger years to my diehard fandom for the teams in black & gold, sports have always been my focus. So much so that even though I knew I couldn’t play them at the collegiate level, let alone the pro level, I knew they needed to be part of my life in a larger capacity. My original plan of being involved in sports management folded when I realized school wasn’t for me. Here I am, trying to figure out what’s next for and how I can incorporate sports into my life at a larger scale than just watching the games. It took a few years to get the answer to this, but when it came about I knew it was going to be special.


In the late summer of 2017, I along with two friends (Tyler Weeks and Herb Ohliger) got the idea to start a Pittsburgh sports based podcast. We jumped into it without really knowing much. We just knew we wanted an outlet to talk about sports, but we had zero clue if anyone would listen or care about what we were talking about. The inspiration for starting it? We had grown tired of the way of Pittsburgh sports media.

It was all about clicks, hot takes, shock value statements. No credibility. No sincerity. I get it though, it’s their job to get eyes and ears on their product, and that is the way of doing it I guess. We had all grown tired of this being the way, though. We wanted to offer consumers an alternative to sports radio. We’re fans of the teams speaking our opinions directly to the fans. We spoke from our hearts, giving our honest thoughts and opinions. The amount of listens, views, and likes didn’t matter to us. Being as organic as possible and the support of those who could see that were what was important.

The podcast to me

I say it all the time and it’s kind of corny, but this podcast is literally my saving grace. There was a point shortly before this got started that I didn’t want to be here. I fell into a rut and had no motivation. The launch of the podcast helped turn things around for me and for that I’m so thankful. I’m going to be giving a shoutout to several people throughout this, but special shoutout to Anthony DiNardo and Ryan Alexander who helped us get this thing off the ground and were an inspiration for us early on. Back to the show though.

Pittsburgh athletes


We were having so much fun with it, and in the blink of an eye a year had gone by. We started to feel a little stagnant with it though. Almost as if the show had kind of plateaued and we were looking for ways to change things up. I don’t know what exactly crossed my mind when one day, I just decided to start reaching out to Pittsburgh athletes and seeing if we could in some way collaborate with them.

I sent messages to literally everyone I could….literally everyone. This is where I would say the ball really got rolling. Shane Baz was the first to respond, and he offered to come on the show! He even wanted one of our shirts from our recently launched merch store! I was in shock. This became a domino effect if you will. Pirates prospect after Pirates prospect joining the show and rocking a “Trust The BUCN Process” t-shirt. It was awesome to see and even more awesome were the relationships we built with some of these guys through this “movement.” Big shoutout to my guys Jared Oliva, Geoff Hartlieb and Bligh Madris (amongst many others) who have become good friends of ours through this.

The Next Step

This became our niche for a while and we were once again looking for ways to spice things up a bit. When COVID-19 shut everything down (including sports), it became a real challenge to see how we’d continue to come up with content for the show. The answer to that would come in the form of a string of interviews with athletes, former athletes, internet personalities, etc…in the likes of Joey Mulinaro, Bryant McFadden, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Bryan Rust, Jack Wilson, etc… Here we are, just a couple of Pittsburgh sports fans getting to interview the players we grew up rooting for and the players we get to watch right now. We were doing things our way. A podcast for the fans, by the fans.

Adding to all of this, Noah Strackbein and the team at wanted to add us to their Steelers coverage. What is happening? To say it’s been a dream come true, wouldn’t be doing it justice. Towards the end of 2020, we got brought in by Crow Worthy media who signed us to a contract to begin podcasting and putting out content for them. I don’t know what I did to be put in this position but I’m so thankful.

For Pittsburgh

That’s enough about our story, though. We are just a small part in what I hope to see take place in Pittsburgh. It’s a city who loves its sports teams and is starving for new voices to talk about them. They deserve so much better than what they have in terms of it’s current media. They aren’t all bad (shoutout to Alan Saunders and Donnie Druin and Noah Strackbein), but generally speaking, it’s well overdue to have some fresh voices leading the way. The content creation of Pittsburgh has been something I’ve kept a very close eye on and the creativity has been awesome to see. Through livestreams and mailbags, consumer engagement has been taken to a new level. A lot of these people are going relatively unrecognized despite an immense amount of talent.

Plenty of talent

Let’s talk about some of the best Pittsburgh content creators. Nick Farabaugh is genuinely one of the best football minds that I’ve ever crossed paths with. Through his YouTube channel “5 Star Matchup”, Steve Marucci has created one of the most unique and entertaining channels on the platform.

Mike Beck has taken an already successful “Behind The Steel Curtain” platform to the next level. Mike and Jordan from YinzerCrazy have built that thing from the ground up and have a great thing going. The COMON Network guys have creatively found a way to separate themselves from anyone else by doing things their way. With his show “Back to the Burgh”, Cody Kohlman has found a way to shine a light on athletes, personalities and small business owners alike. Ty, Michael and Alex from YinzDaily are 3 of the funniest people in the podcasting community. They’re so fun to engage with. The Locked on Pens show with Hunter is one of my favorite listens. Enthusiastic and informative are the best ways to describe it.

I could talk about all of the people who inspire me for hours, but let me finish this by talking about the 3 hosts of a new podcast called “Yinzhers”. Morgan Urtso, Jordan DeFigio and Samantha James. I just want to say thank you. You really do inspire me. I can’t speak firsthand on it, but I see some of the horror stories of trying to find your way as a woman in sports. It’s admirable to be willing to put yourself at the forefront of that and be willing to shoulder the heat. Women belong in sports and I’m glad that we have the 3 of you to represent the black & gold.

The 412

If I haven’t personally talked about you in this, I’m sorry. That’s a testament to just how many content creators this city has to offer. Keep grinding and let’s continue to change the culture. I’m so excited to see how this movement continues to grow and couldn’t be more honored to play a small role in doing so. In the words of the great David Ortiz, “This is our F***in city!”

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Episode 75