Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Bonds, Bill

Bill Bonds anchored the news on Detroit television for all or part of four decades. He drew viewers in massive numbers with his dramatic and fearsomely opinionated style, attracting fans and detractors in numbers that have never been equaled before—or since.

A Detroit native, Bonds’ mother taught English and his father worked in advertising.  After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, Bonds earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Detroit before beginning his career for $1/hour at an Albion radio station. His aggressive coverage of a tornado at Anchor Bay on May 8, 1964 which killed 11 people and injured more than 200, brought him to the attention of WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) general manager John Pival.

Upon finding a home at Channel 7, Bonds further distinguished himself while anchoring the station’s coverage of the 1967 Detroit riots. Mayor Coleman A. Young later remarked that Bonds bled for the city during that week. Once established, Bonds became the station’s best-known newscaster.

Bonds became increasingly controversial and confrontational. His tough – some said “over-the-top” – grilling of U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch drove the Utah lawmaker to walk away from their interview. Bonds also challenged Mayor Coleman A. Young to a fistfight, an incident for which Bonds later apologized. He was released from the station in 1995, but returned four years later as commentator.

He last appeared on Channel 7’s airwaves on October 21, 2008, anchoring the news for a one-time outing to celebrate the station’s 60 years on the airwaves.