BIO: Bill Mercer

Real Name:  William A. Mercer

Need to Know Facts:  Bill Mercer achieved worldwide fame in the 1980s as the voice of WCCW, but many outside the D/FW Metroplex may not be fully aware of his long and distinguished career in sports and news broadcasting.

Born in February 1926, Mercer served as a signalman in the U.S. Navy during the last years of World War II.  It was while he was covering news and sports (including wrestling) for Muskogee, Oklahoma radio station KMUS in 1953 that Bill was contacted by KRLD-TV (now KDFW-TV) in Dallas, which was looking for a commentator for its Tuesday night wrestling telecast, Live at the Sportatorium.  Mercer remained with KRLD well into the 1960s, also working as a news reporter and anchor, and was a major part of the station's coverage of President John F. Kennedy's assassination;  the famous late-night news conference with accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of the Dallas City Jail, held in the early hours of November 23, 1963, happened as a result of Mercer's journalistic efforts.  (Forty years later, he and three other former KRLD reporters would recall their experiences while covering the shootings of Kennedy and Oswald in the book When the News Went Live: Dallas 1963.)

Bill hosted KRLD's wrestling telecasts until 1959, when he became commentator for the AFL's Dallas Texans radio broadcasts.  He was also at the microphone for the Triple A Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers and the Texas League Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs throughout the '60s and into the '70s.  In addition, Mercer handled play-by-play commentary on the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network (including the dramatic Cowboys-Green Bay Packers NFL Championship game of December 31, 1967, played in below-zero temperatures and popularly referred to as the "Ice Bowl"; and the Cowboys' 1972 Super Bowl victory), for the Texas Rangers during their first two years at Arlington Stadium, and for college football at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) from 1959 until 1993.

Mercer returned to the grappling game in 1976 when he replaced Dan Coates as host of KTVT's Saturday Night Wrestling, a position Bill would hold for the next six years.  During the same period, he was also sports anchor on legendary Dallas DJ Ron Chapman's KVIL Radio morning show.

In the early 1980s, Mercer had an idea that would revolutionize pro wrestling on television: rather than wide and medium shots from two stationary cameras, which was the standard for wrestling coverage at the time, he envisioned handheld ringside cameras practically bringing the action into viewers' living rooms.  Producer Mickey Grant took Bill's idea to KXTX-TV in Dallas, pitching the concept that would eventually turn into the syndicated World Class Championship Wrestling series.  The show was an instant hit with fans nationwide and in many countries around the world, including Israel, where Mercer was voted the fourth most popular television personality (the Von Erich brothers took the top three slots).

As WCCW declined toward the end of the decade, Bill left the promotion and was commentator for Ken Mantell's Wild West Wrestling promotion in Fort Worth during its short existence.  He was also briefly a co-owner of KWDC, a jazz radio station in the Denton area.  Mercer and Gary Hart made several attempts to launch new Dallas-area promotions in the 1990s; Bill was the announcer for Hart's short-lived Texas Championship Wrestling at the Mesquite Arena, and the two subsequently tried reviving WCCW but abandoned the idea
when a TV deal was not forthcoming.  In 1997, Mercer and Mickey Grant helped Hart launch World Class II: The Next Generation at the Sportatorium.  By then, however, both the building and pro wrestling in Dallas were on their last legs, and the effort was not successful.

Now in his 80's, Mercer -- a Texas Radio Hall of Fame inductee -- is still going strong, teaching radio and television courses at the University of North Texas, and broadcasting minor league baseball games for the Texas League's Round Rock Express.  He also served on the 2006 selection committee for the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, located in Amsterdam, New York.  Bill and his longtime wife Ilene have four children and seven grandchildren.