Struthers native broadcasts for Gators v. Buckeyes

PHOENIX — Steve Babik said he knew at an early age what profession he wanted to enter. Others might call it a dream job.

Babik, 47, a native of Struthers, will be on the sidelines tonightMonday at the BCS national championship game between Ohio State University and the Universityy of Florida. He is a member of the Gator Football Radio Network, serving as host of the pregame and postgame shows and as sideline reporter.

Babik’s duties aren’t just confined to game day. He also coordinates the 50 stations that make up the radio network and speaks to fan groups around the state of Florida. He is also the radio play-by-play voice for the Florida women’s basketball and baseball broadcasts.

“I’ve been to Final Fours, I’ve been to Omaha [for the College World Series] and this is my second national championship for football. I’ve been a pretty luck guy,” he said.

Babik worked with the FM radio station at Struthers High School while attending school there.

“I knew then that I wanted to get into sports broadcasting,” said Babik.

He then got started in the sports information office at Youngstown State University as an undergraduate, and after two years transferred to Penn State, where he worked on the Joe Paterno Show.

Babik first worked at the University of Florida as postgraduate intern, but left for a full-time job at the Western Michigan University, broadcasting hockey for three years.

“I knew hockey,” Babik laughed, “but when I interviewed there they asked me if I knew the game and I said, ‘Yes I do.’”

Babik kept in touch with his contacts at Florida and returned in 1987.

“At that time Florida [football] goes on [NCAA] probation and they’re banned from TV, so their radio network blossoms from like to 20 stations to over 60. My old boss was doing everything and it got to the point where he needed a second person,” he said.

Ironically, Babik grew up a big OSU football fan, listening to the games every Saturday and the television replay on public television He’s also a big Cleveland Indians fan — one of his favorite announcers is Joe Tait, whom he has patterned some of his style after.

There still remains some loyalty to the Buckeyes.

“I’ve got a statue of Woody Hayes in my house,” he admitted, “but for the last few weeks I’ve had to turn him around.

“Football in Florida is so crazy and so big-time. It’s such a religion down there you can’t help but get caught up in that. Being there 20 years, I’m a Gator.”

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