KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Bobby Denton, known as the "Voice of Neyland Stadium," has died at age 73 after a brief illness.
Denton was also the former general manager of country music radio station WIVK.
The Knoxville native was known for his signature catchphrases and gentlemanly southern style.
His two most famous phrases came in his first 15 minutes at the mic at every home game. Denton began each gameday's festivities by shouting, "It's football time in Tennessee!" The proclamation alerted those in the stadium to focus on the field and informed those outside that they were missing out.
"It's the only thing I know where you can make over 100,000 really stand up and cheer. I think people anticipated that and I do," Denton told 6 Sports Director Jim Wogan in 2005.
His other famous phrase was: "We urge you to pay these prices, and please pay no more," a reference to concession stand prices at the stadium.
Denton was first known in the area as a radio DJ, helping build WIVK into one of the most successful country radio stations in the country. Even though he retired to Florida after 36 years with WIVK, he still returned to Knoxville each fall to announce the games at Neyland Stadium.
University of Tennessee's President Joe DiPietro sent out a tweet Wednesday morning stating, "Saddened to learn this morning the PA voice of Neyland Stadium for almost 50 years has gone silent. Rest in peace, Mr. Bobby Denton."
"Bobby Denton is a true treasure of Tennessee football," head coach Butch Jones said. "Hearing him say, `It's football time in Tennessee' is one of the greatest traditions in the history of college football. His voice is as synonymous with Neyland Stadium as the checkerboard end zones, and everyone in the Tennessee family will miss him greatly."
"It's a very sad day as Bobby Denton is no longer with us," former head coach Johnny Majors said. "When I think about Bobby, it brings a smile to my face, or a big laugh. He's one of a kind. Bobby was beloved by the community. He was a leader in the radio industry and very well thought of. It will be very different at Neyland Stadium to not hear that Hollywood voice of his and his East Tennessee accent when he would say `It's Football Time in Tennessee' and 'Pay these prices and pay no more.'
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam also shared fond memories of Denton.
"Bobby has been a friend of mine for a long time, and he will be missed. Generations of Tennessee football fans grew up listening to Bobby urging them to 'Pay these prices and pay no more.' Bobby may have passed away, but nobody will hear, 'It's football time in Tennessee,' and not think of him," said Gov. Haslam.
Family members and friends of Bobby are establishing a scholarship fund in his name at the University of Tennessee College of Communications and Information.
The goal is to fund a scholarship endowment that would support an award each year to a deserving broadcasting student in the college's School of Journalism.
Anyone interested in contributing to the endowment may contact Patrick Powell, director of development for the college, at 865-974-3211 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funeral services are at 7pm Monday, April 14 at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church.
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