Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Remembering Bobby...

I first got to meet Bobby Denton face to face in 1975. I wanted to work at WIVK- the greatest radio station on Earth. They were owned by Jim Dick a very powerful man. They had the greatest morning radio personality ever in Claude Tomlinson. Bobby was doing afternoons and was the program director. Bobby hired me and within a year I was doing middays. Little did I know all the life lessons I was going to learn from these three men. I was so lucky to be in that inner circle and watch the magic that Bobby Denton could weave. If you know me, you know a million times I have said Bobby Denton could take two people that were polar opposites and bring them together in an hour. He knew how and when to compromise. More importantly he knew how to make things happen. And over 20 years with Bobby I saw a LOT of things happen. WIVK was the highest rated radio station in America of all formats. There was Red Gate, The Worlds Fair, WIVK Shindigs, the Half Price Fairs, Listener Appreciation Days, 1000's of LIVE remotes, so much. The first remote broadcast I ever did on WIVK was with Bobby at Beaty Chevrolet and trust me that was an experience. People loved to be around Bobby and he loved people. I remember one time he told me, "When you screw up, take responsibility, do your best to correct it, learn from it and move on. Don't ever make excuses." I have tried to always remember that. I doubt Knoxville, Tennessee will ever see another man like Bobby Denton. When I think of Bobby I can't help but remember how he signed off his afternoon radio show everyday. "Good night...remember to put a little love in your heart. (And in a high pitched voice he ended with) Bye!" He touched a lot of people and he certainly made a big difference in my life. Rest in total peace. (Bob Thomas)

I'm so sorry to hear of Bobby Denton's passing. He was one of a kind and really cared about his employees. I'll never forget the day he called excitedly from Deane Hill Country Club, where he was playing golf, and told me to grab my tape recorder and get over there, pronto. Alice Cooper was playing! I couldn't figure why our C&W station would run an interview with him, but I did as assigned and it was a blast. My condolences to his family and his larger WIVK family and all his fans. He and Jim Dick firmly believed in giving back to the community and I think that's probably 40% of the success of the original WIVK. Remember the free listener appreciation concerts at Red Gate Farm and World's Fair site? They really believed in news, too, and spent money on the department. They programmed music for THIS market, not a lowest common denominator listener across the country. That's long gone in this corporate, bean counter, world, alas. So many will remember and miss him, and to me, that's immortality. (Jean Ash)

Sad, sad day at the Frog Station. The man behind it all is gone. But having known Bobby Denton for 32 years, I cannot help but smile a little, even through the pain of the loss. If I had a dime for every time Bobby made me laugh, I would be the one living on a golf course in Naples! So many people have so many good memories of Bobby. I believe that is his true legacy, above and beyond his storied career in radio and business. Farewell, friend. (Channing Smith)

Bobby Denton passed away this morning in hospice care. Of all the good people who contributed to the success of WIVK before the conglomerates bought it, I thought Bobby was the most influential. When Bobby went to lunch, he didn't run down to McDonald's. He usually found a small restaurant where people knew him. He shook hands with everyone he saw and talked about politics, country music, and auto racing. He always made an impression and he always left people smiling and laughing. At night, he usually found a function to attend and represent WIVK. Today, they call it networking. To Bobby, he was just doing business. He was the long time PA announcer for Talladega. He has been the PA announcer for UT football so long, I can't even remember who held the job before him. It was "Booby" who created the trademark phrase, "Please pay these prices and pay no more." Bobby was a colorful character and we didn't always see eye to eye, but we got along well, anyway. I loved working for him at WIVK and competing against him after I left. I admired him tremendously. Goodbye, Bobby. You did well. (Bill Miller aka Suitcase Simpson)

I feel so damn helpless..i am in Italy with no phone service and a man I love very much has died..I will miss Bobby Denton so much..I just want to scream..please pray for his family! (Phil Williams)

Thinking about the passing of Bobby Denton, this morning. In addition to his legendary Neyland Stadium history, we have to consider his influence in the country music industry. Who knew about the band called "Alabama" before Bobby added them to the WIVK playlist, and invited them to play WIVK Listener Appreciation Day at Red Gate Farm in 1979? Or the day Garth Brooks played for us in the WIVK conference room before his big break. The Judds came to WIVK on their first tour in the early 80;s. I could go on an on. To be asked to perform at WIVK Listener Appreciation Day propelled the careers of so many of today's household names. Even Dolly Parton can give Bobby props for helping to launch her career Bobby made WIVK one of the most important radio stations in America for the country music business. The entire country music industry should say a prayer in remembrance. (Tony Igar)

I  am very saddened to learn of the passing this morning of a Knoxville radio legend, Bobby Denton. Bobby was instrumental in making WIVK an iconic station in country music. We competed fiercely for decades on the radio. But, never once was it anything other than business between us. I was the PA voice for The Pride of the Southland Band for 12 years. Every season would start the same way. Bobby would enter the PA booth, walk past me down the steps and say, When you gonna come work for a real radio station Jarnigan?" My answer every time would be, "Bobby, you've never once offered me a job." He'd bellow out laughing and off into another season we'd go. Even though we tussled over ever ratings points all week, on football Saturday's you'd never know it. He'd always bring me an ice cream back from the WIVK booth after halftime. Every Saturday. I have a few great Bobby press box stories... (Alabama coaches and why Lou Holtz can't stand TN) . I'll recall a few here this week. What I'd give for one more ice cream. Rest well my friend. (Jeff Jarnigan)

Bound to me lots of Bobby Denton stories remembered today. Personally, I remember talking him into hiring CP and Walker after I found out our radio station (WRJZ) was going to go country. I hated country music and had an idea to move over to WIVK and talk them into taking their AM station adult contemporary (a name made up by some radio genius who was trying to play rock but not offend the over 24 listener) and making CP and Walker the morning team. Long story short, he liked the idea and carried it to James A. Dick who also liked it. As for moving the format, they did and when it went on a certain "very very smart" radio mogul had a group of folks call Bobby and James A telling them they wanted to hear CP and Walker on a country station. Working with Denton was much different than being a friend of Denton but I will say both were an experience most folks never had and those that didn't missed one hell of a ride. (Walker Johnson)

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