James F. Sirmons

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James F. Sirmons
Jim Sirmons at his desk at Black Rock, CBS, August 2000
James Franklin Sirmons

(1917-12-16)December 16, 1917
Died(2018-04-20)April 20, 2018
OccupationExecutive Vice President CBS
Spouse(s)Virginia Louise Gorgas
Parent(s)Benjamin Franklin Sirmons
Pearl Estelle Barfield

James "Jim" Franklin Sirmons (December 16, 1917 –April 20, 2018) was an American broadcasting executive who worked for CBS from 1942-2000, first in Radio Operations and later in Labor / Industrial Relations.[1]

Early Life[edit]

Sirmons was born December 16, 1917, in Saint Petersburg, Florida, to Benjamin Franklin Sirmons and Pearl Estelle Barfield. He attended St. Petersburg College (then called St. Petersburg Junior College) in Saint Petersburg, Florida in 1935-1937 and then the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida in 1937-1941 studying law.[1]

Early Career[edit]

In early 1940 he accepted his first job at CBS affiliate WCKY in Cincinnati, Ohio working on a morning radio show called The Hot Coffee Club. Soon afterward, in late 1940 he joined WFMJ in Youngstown, Ohio as an announcer and production manager.[2] He met his future wife, Virginia Gorgas, while working there. "James Sirmons, chief announcer of WFMJ, Youngstown, recently married Virginia Gorgas, whom he meet when she entered the television contest staged during the RCA television show in Youngstown last April. Miss Gorgas, however, failed to win a contest prize." [3]

CBS Radio Network[edit]

Bronze "S" from the original Columbia Broadcasting Systems building mounted as a plaque for James F. Sirmons on the occasion of his 50 years of service to CBS Inc, 1992.

In early 1942 there was an opening for a Production Supervisor for the CBS Radio Network in New York City. Newly married, and with the U.S. entering World War II, he accepted the night shift and managed announcers, directors, musicians and other crew and talent for live radio broadcasts.[4] He worked closely with CBS co-founder and president Dr. Frank Stanton as well as vice president of CBS News Edward R. Murrow, chief of CBS News Wells "Ted" Church, and broadcast journalists such as Eric Sevareid, John Charles Daly, George Herman, Richard C. Hottelet, William L. Shirer, Theodore "Ted" Koop, and Lowell Thomas.[5] He helped to manage the live report on D-Day on June 6, 1944, and the first live televised presidential election in progress (Truman vs Dewey, November 3, 1948).[5]

In 1949 he was promoted to Operations Manager. During these years he also taught broadcasting courses at NYU. One of his students, Larry King, accredited Sirmons as one of the people who helped set him on the right path to becoming a broadcaster.[6]

Industrial Relations[edit]

In 1957, Sirmons was promoted to Assistant Director of Labor Relations at CBS, reporting to the first vice president of that department, William C. Fitts. He was then promoted in 1961 to Director of Labor Relations.[7][8]

Upon the retirement of Mr. Fitts in 1969[9], Sirmons was promoted to Vice President of Employee Relations[10], and then in 1971 became Vice President of Personnel and Labor Relations at CBS.

In 1981 he was promoted to Senior Vice President of Industrial Relations, and finally in 1994 promoted to Executive Vice President of Industrial Relations.[11][12]

By the time of his retirement in 2000 he had worked for 58 years at CBS and was responsible for over 200 labor agreements in broadcasting.[13][1]

AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds[edit]

James F. Sirmons plaque from AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds

In 1968, Sirmons was elected to the Board of Directors at AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds, and in 1970 was elected chairman, a position he held until 2001 when he finally resigned as chairman. He resigned the board in 2009. During his 48 year tenure he negotiated 61 contracts with AFTRA.[13][1]


James F. Sirmons died peacefully in his home in St. Petersburg, Florida on April 20, 2018 at 100 years, 4 months and 4 days old. [1]


  • 1973: Merit Award, United Fund of Greater New York
  • American Broadcast Pioneer, Broadcasters' Foundation of America
  • 2008: Outstanding Alumnus Award, St. Petersburg College Alumni Association, Inc.


  1. ^ a b c d e "James Sirmons Obituary". Tampa Bay Times. May 13, 2018.
  2. ^ "Birthday Program". 19 (6). Broadcasting Magazine. September 15, 1940.
  3. ^ "Caught in Contest". Broadcasting Magazine. August 11, 1941.
  4. ^ "Wins Promotion". St. Petersburg Times. April 1, 1942.
  5. ^ a b "James F. Sirmons Memorial". sirmonsfamily.net.
  6. ^ King, Larry (2009). My Remarkable Journey. New York: Weinstein Books. p. 304. ISBN 978-1-602-86102-2.
  7. ^ "Network Representatives Meet". UPI. April 3, 1967.
  8. ^ "Network and Union Negotiators Meet". The Rocky Mount Sunday Telegram. April 2, 1967.
  9. ^ "William C. Fitts Jr., 87, A Retired Executive". New York Times. 1993.
  10. ^ "CBS Appoints Vice President". The Pittsburgh Press. November 6, 1969.
  11. ^ 2002 Directory of Corporate Affiliations. 6. New York: LexisNexis Group. 2002. p. 1628. ISBN 978-0872171909.
  12. ^ Stevens, Tracy, ed. (2000). International Television & Video Almanac. Quigley Publishing Company. p. 579. ISBN 978-0900610660.
  13. ^ a b AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds Video Presentation on the Occasion of James F. Sirmons Retirement from the Board of Trustees.

Further reading[edit]

  • Koenix, Allen Edward. American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Negotiations and Contracts (1962).

Business positions
Preceded by
William C. Fitts
Vice President of Labor / Industrial Relations
Succeeded by
Harry Isaacs