Dearstone, who had worked at the station for 36 years, said he was fired following his Tuesday morning show, "First Quarter." Although he had told the station he planned to retire in 2018, he was surprised by the timing.
"They said it was for cost-cutting reasons," said Dearstone, who had been program director since 2005. Before that, he had been the station's promotions director.
Ken Salyer, the station's vice president and marketing manager, wouldn't confirm the firing.
His role with the Lady Vols made him one of the most popular radio personalities in Knoxville. He also became well known as host of the "Doc, Jeff and Heather in the Morning" show, which included Jeff Jacoby and Heather Harrington since January 2006.
Jacoby, a longtime fixture on Knoxville radio, died on Christmas Day following a long battle with cancer.