By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Longtime Birmingham television anchor Bill Bolen has died.
Bolen was a radio and television newsperson for seven decades. He was a news anchor and TV personality on WBRC FOX6 News for over 40 years until his retirement in 2010.
“It breaks my heart to let you all know that Mr. Bolen has passed away. He’s now with his beloved Vivian he so affectionately Called Mama. I can hardly think right now – but his family wanted me to share the news with you because he loved you so much. Please pray for his family – this is an enormous loss to so many,” WBRC anchor, Janice Rogers, said on social media.
“I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of Birmingham TV legend Bill Bolen. Growing up in Haleyville, he was a mainstay on our TVs. He was a wonderful person whose good nature radiated across the airwaves. He will be missed and his family and friends are in my prayers,” U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, said.
“A great Southern Gentleman, Father, and a Legend in broadcasting. I’m a HUGE Bill Bolen fan. My heartfelt condolences to The Bolen’s and thank you for sharing Mr. Bolen with us for years,” Jim Dunaway, a sports anchor, said.
“WBRCnews legend #BillBolen has passed away. A true gentleman, husband & father. Nice guys can succeed in media!” Rick Karle said.
“I first met Bill as a high school student – I was a guest on the Tom York Morning Show in February 1986. He had an air of dignity, authority and class. Later, I got to know him as a competitor. All he ever did was confirm my first impression. Godspeed, Mr. Bolen,” Ike Pigott said.
“Worst news I’ve heard all day. Our hearts are breaking that we’ve lost the very kind, professional Bill Bolen. Our former longtime WBRC anchor, has passed away,” Mike Dubberly said.
WBRC released a statement, “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.”
Bolen’s remarkable career in Alabama broadcasting began with a job in radio while a high school student in his hometown of Selma in 1947. He went on to the University of Alabama where he received his bachelor’s degree in Radio Arts. In 1952, during the Korean War, Bolen joined the U.S. Air Force. He was the Personnel Service Officer at an Air Force base in Yuma, Arizona. In 1954, he returned to Alabama and resumed his broadcasting career, though he remained active in the Air Guard and Reserves. He retired in 1979 as a lieutenant colonel. Bill worked at various radio stations in the state as an announcer, disc jockey, traffic reporter, promotions and news. He was the news director and program director at WSGN AM channel 610. In 1965, he went into television at the news station in Birmingham: WBMG-TV, a CBS affiliate. Bolen anchored two newscasts a day, but he also produced the shows, acted as a street reporter and shot news film.
He joined WBRC in August, 1969. Bolen was the co-anchor for the 5:30 p.m. news and was also anchoring the 10 p.m. news.
In 1973, he was moved to mornings where he anchored morning news segments, anchored the daily noon news, was editorial director and religion editor. In 1996, the early morning news went to two hours, which Bolen co-anchored from 5 until 7 a.m. WBRC FOX6 News launched “Good Day Alabama.” Bolen was an integral part of the show anchoring news cut-ins and hosting regular features each week from gardening to cooking to carpentry.
In September 2001, 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.
Bolen 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. Bolen was a cancer survivor and received the Life Inspiration Award in 1997 from the American Cancer Society.
He was 89.
(Bolen’s biography is based on original reporting by WBRC.)