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UT Legend-The Voice of Neyland Stadium Bobby Denton Dies

KNOXVILLE WIVK radio reported Wednesday morning that Bobby Denton has died of cancer.

He was part of the core group that built WIVK into the powerhouse radio station that it is today, the station posted on its website. He had retired from the station several years ago.

Denton was known as the public address announcer at Neyland Stadium for University of Tennessee football games for more than 40 years.

UT coach Butch Jones tweeted, Without Bobby Denton there would be NO Its Football Time in Tennessee! Your voice will be heard forever!

Dentons wife confirmed he died at home after a brief illness with cancer.

In a profile in Knoxville Magazine in 2009, Denton talked about the iconic phrase:

Its football time in Tenne...sseeeeee!

People go absolutely nuts, Denton told the magazine. Its the one thing people look forward to when I open the mic.

A graduate of East High School, Denton worked at a Gulf station in East Knoxville blacking tires on Kays Ice Cream trucks, earning Blacky as the first of many nicknames.

His passion was cars, and one summer night he followed that love and took his 57 Chevy to the Maryville drag strip, completely unaware of the opportunity about to be thrown his way.

I got there and somebody said, The announcer didnt show up. Get up there and announce the race! I had no idea what I was doing, but I just started cutting up with the drivers, and they invited me back the next week.

After a year announcing drag races, Smokey Mountain Raceway tapped Denton to announce NASCAR races during the Richard Petty and Dale Earndhart, Sr. era. He was a proven natural and consequently headed to Alabama and Talladega Superspeedway as the race announcer there for 16 years.

While at Talladega, WSKT in South Knoxville convinced him to return and hired him as an announcer.

WIVK hired him after a little more than nine months at WSKT, according to the Knoxville Magazine profile.

Over 36 years, he helped build WIVK into a leading mid-market country radio station. He worked his way up to vice president and general manager.

Until 2001 and Citadel Broadcastings buyout, WIVK won four CMA (Country Music Association) Awards for Radio Station of the Year along with multiple other awards and accolades under Dentons direction.

While theres been dispute between him and the legendary Vol Network broadcaster John Ward over who coined the phrase, Its football time in Tennessee! theres one phrase of Dentons that can never be refuted.

During his inaugural days calling UT football games, he would announce stadium concession prices and then suggested, as prices began to rise, printing them in the game programs. Today, 15 minutes before kickoff, the crowd still roars as Bobby makes his customary, and now famous, pitch. Todays concession prices are found on page 99 of your souvenir program book. We urge you to pay these prices and please pay no more.

Funeral arrangements have not been made. More to come on this story.