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Colleagues, Friends Reminisce About Years With Bill Bonds

DETROIT (WWJ) -- The Detroit news community was hit with sad news on Saturday with the passing of legendary local anchorman Bill Bonds. Bonds suffered a heart attack on Saturday afternoon and died at the age of 82.

Bonds, a Detroit native and graduate of the University of Detroit, spent almost his entire career at WXYZ-TV, starting in the early 70s, and was the station's main 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. anchor until 1995.

Mort Meisner, President of Mort Meisner and Associates, is a former news director who worked with Bonds from 1977 to 1981 at WXYZ. Meisner said that he believes that Bonds was one of the top news anchors in the country.

"He was a mentor, he was a teacher and truly the most gifted and smartest news anchor that I ever worked with," Meisner said. "I really think as local news anchors go, he's certainly one of the top five all-time anywhere in the United States."

Former WXYZ and WJBK News Anchor Robbie Timmons spoke live on WWJ Newsradio 950 with Brooke Allen Saturday night. Timmons said that Bonds was the king of Detroit television and that viewers have definitely missed "the Bill Bonds era."

"He would ask the questions that viewers wanted to ask and he wouldn't always accept the answers," Timmons said. "He was very challenging when he was interviewing somebody and the viewers really liked that. I know a lot of times the viewers would say that they loved watching Action News at five because they never knew what to expect, they were afraid they were going to miss something if they didn't watch."

Former WDIV news anchor Mort Crim was one of Bonds' main competitors for many years and spoke live on WWJ about that years he spent opposite Bonds in the news world.

"I liked Bill, personally," Crim said. "People ask 'were you friends?' That's a difficult thing to answer because as competitors we didn't hang out with each other, but I would see Bill quite often at community events, at civic events, at banquets...we were always cordial with each other, I think there was a great deal of mutual respect.

"Bill's approach to news was different from mine, and I think that is part of what made it an interesting competition," Crim said. "He was one of a kind, there will never be another Bill Bonds -- I certainly concur with that statement -- and I'm sad at his loss."

Alan Upchurch, one of Bonds' long-time producers also joined WWJ live to talk about what it was like to work with Bonds over the span of almost 20 years.

"He was the quintessential anchorman, just a wonderful guy and he demanded a lot of all of us," Upchurch said. "He cared about the news so much and he cared that the people of Detroit got the news and that they were well-informed."

Former WWJ Producer-Editor and local journalism professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn Tim Kiska spoke live on WWJ about how the news wasn't just Bonds' job, it was his life.

"Number one, he changed the way TV news was done in this town, he introduced an element of drama," Kiska said. "People kind of talk about his wild times, but what I think what really made this guy tick was actually a first-class, hard-driving newsman. He read obsessively, he thought obsessively about the news, he was a total original."

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