Two or three times a month, Edward Long would drop by the Marietta Street office of “Hurricane” Dave Smith, vice president of programming and operations at Radio One in Atlanta, and leave notes requesting a meeting.
He left his number, business cards, flyers and demos.
After years, his persistence paid off.
Long makes it clear he didn’t think Smith was ignoring him, but that people get busy. “He said we would get together,” said Long. “It happened. It was the right time and the right place.”
On Jan. 31, during Super Bowl weekend, Long, the son of the late Bishop Eddie L. Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, launched “Lit Nights With Ed” on Praise 102.5. The late-night show airs from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 p.m. to midnight Saturdays.
“It feels purposeful. It feels divine. It feels like this is what time it is,” said Long, 36, about going back into radio, an interest he’s had since he was a student at Stephenson High School. “I want to continue to move forward with the vision the Lord gave to me really since I was in high school and college and through my professional career and now.”
The move allows Long to blend his passions for radio, music and ministry.
“A lot of us are in a rush to get to a certain place,” Long told listeners during one recent broadcast. “Don’t circumvent the process. You may feel like, you know, that I’ve got to get it now. I got to have it now. The truth of the matter is God can do anything at any point in time … I was being processed in other things like patience, like faithfulness, even my gifting of communications and teaching and preaching. All these things were being fortified within me.”
He describes the show as urban inspiration and is targeting Gen Xers, millennials and the night owls.
“My dad always told me I was just ahead of my time with ideas and music,” he said. “It’s not so much pulling out new tricks, it’s just being who I’ve always been.”
Related: Bishop Eddie Long dies of cancer
Between playing music from Rico Love, T.I., Chris Brown or Jor’dan Armstrong, he or a guest might start talking about faith or dropping some inspirational nuggets.
“They all have a story or testimony,” he said. “They may not be talking about faith. They may just be motivating someone to go out and get a job or pursue a dream.”
Would he play, say, a song by a popular gospel group like the Clark Sisters?
“Oh, 100 percent — probably not,” he said laughing. “And it’s not them. They just don’t make the music that will resonate with our audience. If they did, then let’s go.”
Long has been interested in radio since he was a student at Stephenson High School. He graduated from Florida A&M University with a degree in business administration and later studied at Beulah Heights University.
Long practically grew up at New Birth. His father became pastor when Long was just 4 years old. He did everything from working as a janitor and in construction to helping youth programs and serving in several auxiliaries.
In a sermon last year, Long said he never wanted to preach. Instead, he wanted a career in music. He loved the arts.
“Some get a call like Samuel where you hear the voice of the Lord. I literally got a call. Father called me and said, ‘Son, I need you.’ I said, ‘Not now.’” That was 10 years ago. He told the New Birth congregation he walked away from a few deals on the table that involved music. He walked away, he said, on faith.
He still preaches, including at New Birth Charlotte, and at other churches across the U.S. and overseas.
Jerome Edmondson, owner of the Entrepreneurial Development Network, met Edward Long in 2003 when he was asked by the elder Long to help New Birth members learn more about business ownership.
“I’ve known him from Young Dirty to Edward Jr.,” said Edmondson. Early on, “he was out there doing what young men do.”
One day, said Edmondson, the younger Long was driving his Yukon SUV when he was robbed by a group of young men. “They spared his life, but he had a transition from there. We talked about this. He saw his life flash before his eyes. The next time I saw him, he had short hair and became that guy who was serious about young people and realized they were really out there hurting. He was part of their world, but he wasn’t going to reach them by bringing them through those four walls (of the church). He had to reach them in their world. He recommitted himself back to his true calling and the environment he was raised under.”
Long was devastated when his father died of cancer in January 2017.
Long, the son of Eddie Long and his first wife, thought that after his father’s death, he would fill his shoes at the DeKalb County megachurch. Instead, the board hired a pastor from an affiliated church in Birmingham. When that pastor resigned, Long once said in a sermon, he thought his chance had come. Again, it went to someone else.
Being passed over took its toll. What Long thought was depression, he said, was actually feelings of rejection of being “where I thought I should be.”
That feeling of rejection has now turned into opportunity. Long also launched a monthly Bible study group called “Wine & the Word,” which is held at local venues including clubs.
The idea of the Bible study location “throws a lot of traditional people off and I’m fine with that,” he said. “Topics may touch on faith, sin, pride, relationships or the beginning of creation. A lot of times, the conversations get heated.”
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