Bill Bolen was born in Selma in 1928 and almost from the get-go, had an interest in radio broadcasting. He was working at Sears-Roebuck as a teen and an in-store repairman taught him things about radio. After graduating high school, he went to work for WHBB in his hometown. He continued his work in radio while attending the University of Alabama, where he got a BA in radio arts.
Bill joined the Air Force in 1952 and after his active duty, served in the National Guard and Reserves until retiring in 1979 as a Lieutenant Colonel.
When he returned to Birmingham in 1954 after his active duty service, Bill went to work for WSGN. By 1955, he was the morning DJ and also did a program every Saturday called, ‘Rollin’ with Bolen.’
In the early 60s, Bill was promoted to News Director and served in that function until 1965, when the opportunity came to move to television. He started with WBMG, Channel 42, when it began that same year. Oddly enough, when the station was originally licensed to the Birmingham News, it was to be WSGN-TV (South’s Greatest Newspaper). But nothing happened until it was taken over by Southern Broadcasting and it finally went on the air in 1965.
Bill did two daily newscasts and produced various other segments.
However, a weak signal and lack of quality control and management caused WBMG to surfer. The news, weather and sports almost became comedy shows, which included another radio man, Tommy Charles, doing the sports, which was totally unscripted. The weatherman, Ray White, wasn’t much better, using shoe polish to draw the various fronts, etc. on the national weather map, looking like finger paint when it was finished.
Bolen left WBMG in 1969 and became the evening news anchor on WBRC, channel 6 (then the ABC affiliate). He would later take on other programs like, ‘Good Morning Alabama.’ He semi-retired from most active duties in 2001, but continued to appear on the morning program until 2010, when he retired for good.