Bolen became interested in radio broadcasting while working at Sears, Roebuck & Company as a youngster. He learned about radio from the in-store repairmen and went to work at WHBB right after graduating from Albert G. Parish High School in 1947. He continued to work in radio while attending the University of Alabama and graduated with with a bachelor of arts in radio arts.
In 1952 Bolen left to join the Air Force as a personnel services officer in Yuma, Arizona. After two years he went off of active duty, serving in the Air National Guard and Reserves until retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1979.
Bolen returned to Birmingham in 1954 and went to work for WSGN. A year later he was the station's morning disc jockey and also headlined the Saturday evening Rollin' with Bolen show. He was promoted to news director in the early 1960s.
In 1965 Bolen moved over to television, first at WBMG-TV where he co-anchored two daily newscasts, and produced numerous segments, especially religious news. In August 1969 he moved to WBRC as co-anchor for the 5:30 PM evening news and sole anchor for the 10:00 news.
In 1973 Bolen took over morning anchor duties, covering the noon news as well. He was named editorial director and religion editor for the station. He began co-hosting "Good Day Alabama" when it premiered in 1996. He retired from most station duties in 2001, but continued to appear on the daily morning program until January 28, 2010.
Bolen is a long-time member of Brookwood Baptist Church where he has served as a deacon and on several committees. As a cancer survivor, the American Cancer Society presented him with a "Life Inspiration Award" in 1997. He was awarded the "Gold Circle" from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in 2001.
- Brooks, Michael J. (June 26, 2003) "Birmingham's Bill Bolen serves God through work." Alabama Baptist
- Carlton, Bob (April 17, 2008) "Record collectors to honor Birmingham broadcasters Bolen, Tremelling; songwriter Upton." The Birmingham News
- Carlton, Bob (January 17, 2010) "Fox 6 luminary Bill Bolen to retire." The Birmingham News
- "Bill Bolen, longtime WBRC anchor, has passed away." (January 4, 2018) WBRC.com
- Bill Bolen profile at myfoxal.com