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Bill Bonds Bio

Bill Bonds is an Emmy award-winning American television anchor and reporter, best known for his work at WXYZ-TV in Detroit. A native of Detroit 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. The station also featured such up-and-coming talent as Erik Smith and Frank Beckmann. He was also a reporter for several Michigan radio stations including WCAR, WPON and WQTE. Bonds joined WXYZ in 1963 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. As a result, Bonds was tapped by ABC to become anchorman at KABC-TV in Los Angeles in 1968 to help launch Eyewitness News. He returned to WXYZ in 1971 just as the station was beginning a major upgrade of its news department under the banner Action News. Two years later, WXYZ became the highest-rated news station in Detroit, a position it has held ever since. WXYZ borrowed most of the basic elements of the Eyewitness News format from its fellow ABC OOs (WXYZ was an ABC OO 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 a brief stint to fill in for Bill Beutel at WABC-TV in New York from 1975 to 1976, Bonds was WXYZ's main 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. anchor until 1995. He also occasionally filled in as anchor of ABC's weekend newscasts. Over that time, Bonds became something of an icon to the Detroit viewing public. His hard approach to news won him criticism from some quarters, especially because of occasional outbursts on the air, such as an incident during the filming of a bumper where Bonds insulted the homeless and his co-anchor, Doris Biscoe. However, many Detroit viewers saw him as an "average guy" who asked many of the same questions they would have asked. The book "The Newscasters" by Ron Power called Bonds one of the six most influential news anchors in the nation. 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. The segment was unique in that it would often feature national newsmakers interviewed by Bonds via satellite. (Perhaps the most famous incident came in 1993 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 skipper Sparky Anderson and Detroit Pistons star Joe Dumars). In 1991, Bonds participated in the nationally-televised town hall meeting for Democratic presidential candidates Clinton, Jerry Brown and Paul Tsongas. Bonds battled alcoholism for many years, sometimes appearing visibly drunk and incoherent during news broadcasts. Many believe this was a factor in his departure from WXYZ in 1995. However, soon after he left, he 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 distinctive voice — the product of a lifelong smoking habit — to radio and TV commercials, most notably the Detroit furniture company Gardner White. Since then, he has 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." Bonds also had a bit part as a newscaster in a 1970 episode of It Takes a Thief and in the 1971 film Escape from the Planet of the Apes Bill Bonds also made an appearance in the Eminem music video for his hit song Mockingbird, as a newscaster covering the imprisonment of Eminem's ex-wife Kim Mathers. Bonds was paid a tribute of sorts in 2003 when Detroit area artists "The Billbondsmen" named themselves after him. Recently, Bonds has not been seen doing Gardner White Furniture ads; conjecture is that his contract has expired. Most recently, he has been doing TV ads for The Law Offices of Sam Bernstein. 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 Marilyn Turner on October 21st, 2008 .