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February 23, 1932|
|Died||December 13, 2014
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
|Alma mater||University of Detroit|
|Occupation||Television news, journalist, commentator|
Bill Bonds (February 23, 1932 – December 13, 2014) was an American television news anchor and reporter, best known for his work at WXYZ-TV in Detroit, Michigan. Bonds became an Action News anchorman beginning in the early 1970s.
He was born on February 23, 1932. A native of Detroit, Michigan and a graduate of the University of Detroit, Bonds came to fame initially as a reporter for the city's Contact News on WKNR-AM, known as Keener 13. He was also a reporter for several Michigan radio stations including WCAR, WPON and WQTE.
Bonds joined WXYZ in 1964 as a part-time booth announcer. He worked his way up to the anchor desk with Barney Morris. He and WXYZ first came to prominence for the station's coverage of the 1967 Detroit riots.
Eyewitness News, Action News
Bonds was transferred by ABC to become anchorman at KABC-TV in Los Angeles in 1968 to help launch its version of Eyewitness News. He returned to WXYZ-TV in 1971 just as the station was beginning a major upgrade of its news department under the Action News banner. Two years later, it became the highest-rated news broadcast in Detroit, a position it held up until 2011.
WXYZ-TV borrowed most of the basic elements of the Eyewitness News format from its fellow ABC owned and operated stations (WXYZ was an ABC O&O from sign-on in 1948 until ABC sold it in 1985 as part of its merger with Capital Cities Communications). However, it adopted a somewhat harder approach under Bonds' influence. Apart from his stint in Los Angeles, Bonds anchored at WABC-TV in New York from 1975 to 1976 after which he returned to Detroit. When WXYZ expanded to a 5pm newscast in 1982 Bonds would anchor that newscast and continue as anchor of its 11 p.m. newscast until 1995. He also occasionally filled in as anchor of ABC's weekend newscasts.
Interviews and talk shows
During the 1980s and 1990s, Bonds hosted an interview segment on the 5 p.m. news called "Up Front," in which he confronted newsmakers with tough questions. One of his frequent targets was longtime Detroit Mayor Coleman Young; their sparring matches were the stuff of local legend (including a fistfight challenge given by Bonds to Young in July 1989). The segment was unique in that it would often feature national newsmakers interviewed by Bonds via satellite. (A famous incident came in 1991 when Utah Senator Orrin Hatch stormed off set during an especially heated line of questioning by Bonds.)
In 1989, he launched "Bonds On," a primetime talk format show in which he interviewed everyone from presidents (Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton) to Michigan governors (Jim Blanchard and John Engler) to auto executives (Lee Iacocca, William Clay Ford and Roger Smith) to sports figures (Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson and Detroit Pistons player Joe Dumars).
Bonds joined rival WJBK-TV as host of an 11 p.m. talk show, Bonds Tonight on WJBK-TV and also anchored newscasts. He would return to WXYZ for several months in 1999 to read editorials, but left to lend his voice to radio and TV commercials, most notably the Detroit furniture company Gardner-White.
Commercials, radio work
Bonds had become the voice of several Detroit-area radio stations, and was even paired with one of his partners at WXYZ's anchor desk, Doris Biscoe, to pitch Better Made potato chips. In addition, one of his favorite drinks has become a local favorite. The "Bill Bonds" - (a mixture of Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey and butterscotch-flavored schnapps) is commonly ordered around Detroit-area establishments.
Bonds caused controversy in 2001 for a Gardner-White ad he taped after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In it, a visibly shaken and angered Bonds says, according to an article in the Detroit News, "[The terrorists] think they know how to kill and fight a war. But the Americans are coming, bin Laden. They're coming hard and relentlessly. ... You've just bought yourself a one-way ticket to hell."
On October 3, 2011 Bill Bonds launched The Bonds and Fisher Show With Rachel Nevada on 1090 WCAR with fellow Detroit newsman Rich Fisher, Rachel Nevada and WWJ-TV (Channel 62) meteorologist Jim Madaus.
Other appearances and later life
To celebrate WXYZ-TV's 60th anniversary, Bonds returned to the news desk one more time to anchor a special news broadcast along with former colleagues John Kelly and Marilyn Turner on October 21, 2008.
- Death Notice[permanent dead link] Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors
- "Steve Wilson: Bulldog or bulldozer?". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
- "Bill Bonds confronts Utah Senator Orrin Hatch in 1991 interview". WXYZ-TV. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
- Bill Bonds, iconic former Channel 7 Action News anchorman, has died Archived August 11, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. WXYZ, December 13, 2014