Monday, April 21, 2014

Remembering the voice of Jamey Kerr on WIVK...


Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Good Friday...from a 'Possum!

I was rummaging through a trunk last week and came across a WKGN hit survey (The Official Knox County Survey) that featured a photo of Sonny Knight on the front. Will try to scan and send to you later.

Sonny was one of the finest guys I ever worked with. He and Janice were newlyweds back in 1969 when I encountered him. I'd just been hired at WKGN and drove to Ktown from Wichita (don't ask.) Skip Broussard, the PD who hired me, was off to National Guard camp, another of the jocks was on vacation and this frantic dude was running into the production studio to cut commercials while the music played on the midday jock show he was doing on the air. I asked him where the mic switch was and spent the rest of the day cutting Orange and White Book Store and Cas Walker Supermarkets spots while Sonny did his show. It was the beginning of a great friendship

"Dr. Al Adams" and I visited Sonny a couple of weeks before his death a few years ago. He was unable to talk much by then. Still, the visit was a precious memory of mine, reminding him of his affection for "Hot Fun in the Summertime" by Sly and the Family Stone. I never hear that track without thinking of Sonny.

and the hits just kept on comin',

Paul Randall Dickerson
aka Possum Riley

Radio fans should check of the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame site. Listeners and fans can become associate members of the organization, which presents this year's awards on May 3 in Murfreesboro.

Among the Legacy inductees is Jim Dick, who parlayed a job as a radio time salesman into ownership of a highly successful chain, anchored by WIVK-FM (the frog station).

And from across the dial, "Thanks for hangin' with the Possum on WKGN in 1969-70.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's safe to say I knew Bobby my entire life. I spent many years as a kid running up and down the hallways on Kingston Pike while waiting for dad to get off the air or finish his "homework" and not once did Bobby tell me to slow fact sometimes he'd race me to see who was faster. I always won. One night when I was about 10, we were invited to come to his house for dinner. He told me that someone had thrown one of his WIVK Frisbee's in the neighbors yard the night before and asked if I would go get it for him. 10 seconds later, the Frisbee had made it back to it's original owner and Bobby gave me a fresh $20 bill for my efforts! I immediately asked him if there was anything else he needed help with! There wasn't that night...but several years later there would be. I had a great run working at WIVK for 11 years and another 25 years of having the incredible opportunity to grow up around the best group of radio guys the industry has ever known. All under the care and influence of Bobby Denton. (Ryan Hammond aka Jack Ryan)

I worked at WIVK off and on from about 1976 through about 1994, first as the station mascot, WIVK the Frog, and later as continuity director, copywriter, and production assistant. Working with Bobby really helped me hone my skills as a commercial writer; I learned to hear each announcer's distinct way of speaking, and to write to capture the individuals style...and boy, did Bobby have individual style! There were certain words that would stick in his throat: I still get tickled thinking about producing the Pardon's Jewelers commercials--not many people know that Bobby couldn't pronounce "amethyst" or "exquisite" without stopping and working through the words. The production room was the only place I ever heard Bobby be less than smooth. (I probably should have kept this to myself!) I love you, Bobby and miss you and my WIVK family every day. (Margy Ragsdale)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Remembering Bobby...

Monday night at 7 pm at Cedar Springs Church we will celebrate the life of Bobby Denton. There are many people who will be there to remember a very special man. It will be a very emotional time for many, myself included. As a student at the University of Tennessee, I learned of the job opening at WIVK and applied. The job was to do news in the afternoons with a guy named Bobby Denton. This was 1973. James Dick hired me for the slot and that was the beginning of our working together for almost 40 years. His signature sign off was "put a little love in your heart darling, bye." I remember the cigar, the laughter, the jokes he and Claude would play on each other, the fun times at station parties, and our hard work. Bobby used to tell me "We work hard and we play hard." And we did. My first trip to Las Vegas was with Bobby as was my first trip to the Country Radio Seminar in the 70s. I met many country stars through Bobby including Waylon, Randy Owen, Mel Tillis, and the list goes on. I would have accomplished nothing had it not been for Bobby. He was true mentor and did so much for so many. My kids loved Bobby. They grew up running down the halls of WIVK and Bobby would always hold them, give them candy or maybe a dollar. When they went on mission trips, Bobby was the first to contribute. He was the ultimate promoter, always thinking of ways to grow the station. With Claude, Ed Brantley, Bob Thomas, Jimmy Vineyard, Jean Ash and others, we reached heights never before seen in Knoxville radio. At one time. Claude had a 40 share of the audience in the morning and WIVK had a 38 share. That had never been done before and will never be done again. It was truly a special time with a special group of people. I imagine Bobby, Claude, and Mr. Dick are having quite the reunion. Rest in Peace Mr. Denton. (Mike Hammond)

Page 3...

Happy Birthday wishes to Kerry Lambert!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Remembering the voice of Bobby Denton from his famous afternoon drive program on WIVK~


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Birthday wishes this week to Smokey Burns aka Robert Murphy, heard now on WLS-FM in Chicago!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Met Bobby Denton when I was 19 years old. He and Jim Dick hired me to replace Norman Majors as the News Director at WIVK. I then found myself sitting across the hall looking through the glass at another legend...Claude The Cat. I never saw Bobby without being greeted with a big smile an a "Hey Biggin' how's it goin?" As and employee of WIVK told me on the phone yesterday...Bobby was overheard telling someone "I wouldn't give a weekend of my life...for your entire life!!"  The words of a man who did it all, saw it all and didn't miss a damned thing! What a great and full life he must have lived...some of us had the pleasure of sharing just a small part of it...others years. Many country music stars owe their careers to him and WIVK. That would be a long list. Thank you Bobby for giving a young man a hand up when he needed it...and always encouraging me each and every time we had contact. Saying he is a legend sells him short.  (Mike Beach)

Shortly after taking over the morning show in '91, we were having a hard time winning over listeners. Someone organized a roast for Bobby Denton's 50th birthday. Wall and I attended and recorded a bunch of the funny insults and praises from his friends and co-workers. It was there we realized what an honor had been presented to us. The respect that Bobby had garnered and the over whelming love from everyone was nothing short of incredible. We knew if we watched, listened and did what he told us to, things would turn around. His best advice to us was, "Seize the moment" try to find a way to include the station or your-self in every situation. A few months later we had a winner who was at work at a Weigels. We asked how many people were in the store. He said, "About 5", we said, free Slim Jims for everyone and made him make the announcement. Later that morning, Bobby came in and said, "Boys, that was funny as hell, good job! " (Wilhite and Wall)

When I saw the picture of Bobby in the control room Jim Graves many memories came back. There were several of us that made the trek from WBLC to WIVK and I was one of them. I found myself in the front office being hired by Bobby, Claude and Ed. I remember watching Bobby on the air in that studio. Smooth as silk on the air...but in that control room??? It was like watching an overheated popcorn machine in an earthquake. Carts were flying, sold out advertising and only two cart machines to his right, records to cue up, on the phone with a client on line one, talking to listeners on the other lines.... Barbara Mandrel was in the studio and Bobby was running that train wide open...she was about to have a nervous breakdown just watching him go. But that was who Bobby was...wide open, all the time...getting the job done. That's how you win...and he did. (Jerry Howell)

There are so many great Bobby Denton posts today. I fully intended to read and enjoy every one of 'em without posting something myself. So much for that. I gotta chip in my two cents worth.

This picture is from one of the times Bobby came into the press box at Catholic High School and did his usual incredible job as guest PA announcer. He always showed up early before the crowd go there, so when he opened the mic and said, 'IT'S HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TIME IN EAST TENNESSEE!!!' it was a complete surprise to the people in the stands and they all went absolutely nuts. He did this three different years, and couldn't get out of the stands without someone asking him to come back and do his other great signature line, 'PAY THESE PRICES AND PLEASE PAY NO MORE!'

The last few years I looked for an opportunity that never materialized. I wanted to thank him. He never knew it, but a lot of my most productive habits and practices came from watching him.

It didn't matter what chaos might have been swirling nearby, Bobby rarely let his feathers get ruffled. It could have been a building full of people, or a client swallowing hard before committing thousands of hard-earned dollars to an ad run. Bobby had been there before and he was going to make sure everything would work out.

It seemed as though the more influence he had, the nicer he got. He seemed to know instinctively the more people to share the success, the bigger that success became. At a time when many companies were trying to dictate decisions from far away and push them down to the workers to carry out, Bobby knew there was more strength in letting decisions be made at the lowest possible level, and giving these people the support to get things done.

There were a lot of times I'd stop before discussing an idea and try to picture if Bobby would he have been proud of it or would he have joked about how bad it was. If I couldn't see Bobby being proud of it, I'd keep it to myself. If I could see him bragging about it, it usually worked.

I interviewed for a job there about four years ago. I could see a lot of Bobby in the person I reached out to. I ran into this person Friday night. He's even more successful at his new employer. Part of his success comes from his natural abilities. Part came from applying what he learned from Bobby.

One of these days I'll see him on the other side of the pearly gates. I'll get the chance to look him in the eye, shake his hand, and thank him in person. Maybe he'll introduce me to General Neyland. That would be awesome. (Phil Jarnigan)

I can't tell you how excited I was on April 15 1974 when Mike Hammond and Bobby Denton hired me at WIVK! Bobby gave Mike and I and a ton of other folks a chance to work in an incredible environment of success at the greatest company Dick Broadcasting. James Dick just got a great GM and afternoon drive guy at his Heavenly station. I'm sure they are pumping out the hits and planning to kick WIMZ and WNOX's BUTT! Yeah Baby. "Put little Love in your heart darlin...BYE!!!" Bobby Dentonism.   Let’s get the deal in the house….surely then we can figure out how to divide up the commission! I remember when a bunch of guys from Texas bought Am 1490. W-149. These guys came to town and took the station country and were gonna kick WIVK’s you know what! They were all wearing cowboy hats and boots etc. Of course Bobby never wore any of that though there were many leisure suits and wide lapels in the day! Ha. Well arbitron was on sampling Knoxville one time a year then. So they decided they wanted to do two books a year. Ie..charge the stations double. They called a meeting of all the stations and presented there deal. The bunch from Texas got up at the end and Said, “We don’t want one book a year, We don’t want two books a year, We don’t want three books a year. We Want four books a year. Bobby puffed his ever present cigar and boomed out,   “When you see our numbers, You won’t want ANY BOOKS A YEAR! WIVK got a 28.8 in the next book. W-149 got a .8(point 8)  They went back to Texas!!! Classic Bobby Denton!!! (Paul Lyle)

George, I had not heard about the passing of Bobby Denton until I received this email. My condolences to all his friends and family. I never had the pleasure of meeting Bobby, but growing up in Knoxville, I was never far from the sound of his voice. Bobby and John Ward are the two voices that instantly recall the excitement, pride and joy of Tennessee football and all the warm emotions that we all share about those special Saturday afternoons. I know he will be remembered forever by a HOST of Volunteers! RIP Bobby. (Mike Beck)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

...from January 1977, the late great Bobby Denton on WIVK~


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)

Send your memories of Bobby to~

Voice for Eternity

101 sadly reports that Bobby Denton has passed away from an illness!

Bobby was known for his decades leadership at Dick Broadcasting and his booming PA voice at Tennessee football games.

...and for an 18 year old back in 1976 he welcomed me into the WIVK family as I was a weekend DJ during my college years!

One more time~ "please pay these prices and please pay no more!"

Send your Booby memories to 101!

May his memory be eternal!

Monday, April 07, 2014

101 loves the classic Ktown stories, here's Gabe Hobbs~

...glad to share a few stories. One of my favorites is about Gary Green, our assistant engineer. John Maples was the chief. Both of them had been complaining about the U-Sound van. We had a great van for U-102 but the U-Sound van was a complete piece of junk. U-Sound was our subcarrier Muzak service and we had a separate van to go out to local businesses to set up their systems. The U-Sound van was so bad Gary and John would take it up Shields mountain to the transmitter site. After complaining weekly for months on end they went up the mountain to do some maintenance. On the way down they stopped in the corner of one of the many switchbacks in the road for some unknown reason. When they got out of the van the parking brake magically released sending the van rolling down the dirt road and off of a cliff where it plunged several hundred feet. That van is probably still down in that ravine as there was no way to get it out. They got their new van. To this day the then CEO is convinced Gary did that on purpose. I think the CEO MIGHT be right. But that’s a tough story to sell corporate after you’ve been complaining non-stop about how bad the van is. Oops!!! 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Happy B'day Walker Johnson!

The weekend is here and so is the 101 Audio Vault, today we unlock AD on W-149...