BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It is with great sadness that all of us here at WBRC mourn the passing of a dear member of our WBRC family.
Former WBRC FOX6 News Anchor Bill Bolen has passed away.
Mr. Bolen was a veteran of Alabama broadcasting. He began his career while a high school student in his hometown of Selma, Alabama. He later went on to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa to earn his BA in Radio Arts.
A public memorial service will be held at Brookwood Baptist Church Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Though well known in central Alabama as a WBRC FOX6 News anchor, his first love was radio. Beginning in 1947, Bill worked at various radio stations in the state as an announcer, disc jockey, and in traffic, promotions, and news; You name it, Mr. Bolen did it!
He left his home state in 1952 to join the U.S. Air Force. While serving, Mr. Bolen was appointed Personnel Services Officer at an Air Base in Yuma, Arizona. He returned to civilian life in 1954 keeping active in the Air Guard and Reserves until his retirement as a lieutenant colonel in 1979. Also on his return to civilian life, he secured a job at a very "hot" AM station, WSGN 610. Once again, he was a 'jack of all trades'; sales person, disc jockey, news director, and program director.
Mr. Bolen broke into television in 1965 at the new station in Birmingham: WBMG-TV, a CBS affiliate. Bill not only anchored two newscasts a day, but he also produced the shows, acted as street reporter, and shot news film.
WBRC lured Mr. Bolen away from "next door" and he joined the WBRC FOX6 family in August, 1969.
In typical fashion, Mr. Bolen jumped right in; working as co-anchor for the 5:30 p.m. news and anchoring the 10:00 p.m. news. In 1973, management switched him to mornings and he began working "regular" hours. Not only did he anchor morning news segments, but he also anchored the daily noon news, was editorial director and religion editor.
In 1996, the early morning news went to two hours which Mr. Bolen co-anchored from 5 until 7 a.m. At the same time, WBRC FOX6 News launched Good Day Alabama. The popularity of the show has grown immensely over the years and Mr. Bolen was an integral part of the team for many years. His daily contributions to the show were innumerable - anchoring news cut-ins and hosting regular features each week from gardening to cooking to carpentry.
In September 2001, Mr. Bolen asked to have his hours reduced so that he could have more time with his family. In January 2010, he announced his full retirement from WBRC FOX6 News.
Before Mr. Bolen retired from WBRC in January 2010, he anchored news segments on Good Day Alabama at 6:10 a.m. and 7:10 a.m. in addition to his regular features in Good Day Alabama.
Mr. Bolen's connection to the Birmingham community was widespread. He is the recipient of various professional awards and civic honors, including the Gold Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in June 2001.
As a cancer survivor, Mr. Bolen was honored in 1997 by the American Cancer Society with the Life Inspiration Award.