Biographical / Historical
Bill Downs achieved national recognition as a radio and television newscaster in a long career with United Press, the Columbia Broadcasting System, and finally with the American Broadcasting Company.
His career in journalism began while he was at the University of Kansas, where he combined college studies with newspaper work on the Kansas City Star and the Kansas City Kansan. After graduation in 1937 Downs joined the United Press. Assigned first to Kansas City, later to Denver and New York, Downs was sent to London in 1940.
In 1942 he joined the London staff of C.B.S.. Downs distinguished himself at C.B.S. covering such events as the landing in Normandy on D-Day, the surrender of German forces to Field Marshall Montgomery, the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, the Berlin blockade and airlift, the Glenn space flight, and various presidential campaigns and elections. He was awarded a Headliner Club Award and two Overseas Press Club Awards for his foreign broadcast efforts.
Citing the desire to write a book and a feeling of being in a rut as reasons for his departure, Downs left C.B.S. in a shake-up involving several newscasters, in 1962.
After an 18 month break from broadcasting, Downs signed on with A.B.C. in time to cover the Kennedy assassination. While at A.B.C. Downs had regular spots on radio, as well as television appearances reporting on his Pentagon, Capitol, and ecology beats.
Born William Randall Downs, Jr., on August 17, 1914 in Kansas City, Kansas Bill Downs died in Washington, D.C. on May 3, 1978.