Jerry Kirksey (June 13, 1940 - January 25, 2023)
After completing high school in 1958, Jerry Kirksey began his career working at WTHR radio in Panama City, Florida. In 1960, he was employed by the Florida Boys to manage their office in Pensacola, Florida. Although Florida Boys founder JG Whitfield had left the group by that point, he still had close ties to the group and was impressed by the young Kirksey.
When Whitfield launched the Singing News newspaper in May of 1969, Kirksey was his right-hand man in the new venture. In January of 1970, Kirksey's brainchild, a new nationwide radio airplay chart, appeared for the first time in Singing News. That same year, he started the popular Singing News Fan Awards. Both endured for decades. In May of 1983, Singing News upgraded from a newspaper format to a magazine with a color cover. In that same issue, Kirksey's masthead title was boosted from Feature Editor to overall Editor while Whitfield's title changed from General Manager & Editor to Publisher.
Kirksey remained the magazine's Editor after Whitfield sold Singing News to Maurice Templeton and was still on staff years later when Templeton sold it as well. Kirksey retired in 2010 after more than 40 years with the magazine. In the years that followed, the magazine honored him with the title Editor Emeritus.
During his career, Kirksey also served on the boards of several industry organizations including the Gospel Music Association and the Southern Gospel Music Association.
Singing News Fan Awards
Templeton/Norcross Award (2009)
SGMA Hall Of Fame (2011)