Editor’s Note: After more than 45 years as a pro audio industry fixture, Jim Long has called it a career, retiring in December from Electro-Voice, where he most recently served as director, strategic projects. Among so many strengths, he’s probably best known for his unique ability to explain audio concepts in simple, logical and just plain understandable ways.
Jim’s technical and product presentations thankfully strayed far from the typical recitation of jargon and feature sets - more free-form conversation involving several layers that provided valuable context to the topic at hand, with the audience nodding along as they gained a better understanding of something they thought they already knew, or learned something they hadn’t ever thought about.
This combination of technical know-how and communication skills contributed mightily to the company’s success and branched out in many directions, including the development of the PA Bible—still a trusted reference guide today.
“Jim really personifies the EV brand, its values and its personality, and has made many, many friends over the years as a result,” states his long-time friend and colleague Tom Hansen, VP of key accounts with Bosch Communications Systems. “He’s acted as a trusted adviser on some of the most prestigious EV installations, bringing a discerning ear – fine-tuned by his love of classical music – to the designs of some of the best-sounding systems in the U.S.”
Jim with one of the white Electro-Volce CD horns in his home hi-fi system. (click to enlarge)
In fact, one of those systems resides in Jim’s own front room, where his home hi-fi is equipped with EV constant directivity horns, heard by numerous friends (including yours truly) while enjoying a glass of wine with their host.
Enjoy the following conversation I had with Jim a few years ago about his life, work and experiences.
Keith Clark: How did you get started in this business?
Jim Long: In the early 1960s, I went to Purdue University to get an Electrical Engineering degree, mostly because that’s what my dad expected me to do. In those days, you did that.
Prior to summer break in 1963, I decided that I wanted a job, and I was kind of a hi-fi geek. Now, I didn’t think all that much of EV hi-fi speakers, but I knew that EV was not too far from home. So I sent them an e-mail… (laughs).
Actually, after a couple of letters asking for a job went unanswered, I sent them a Western Union telegram. This was a big deal in those days – I had to go to the student union and write it out to be sent. I got a reply pretty quickly, the gist of which was “report to work on June 1” or something to that effect. So I did.
Since then, I’ve never really left EV, except to finish up my degree at Purdue and to get an MBA from Northwestern University. I considered other jobs, and even went to San Francisco to interview with Hewlett Packard, but in the end I took a full-time engineering position with EV. This was in 1966.
KC: So you had a background in engineering. How did you end up in marketing?
Some things don’t change – Jim making a presentation in the early ‘70s and doing the same just a few years ago. (click to enlarge)
JL: Some of this is a bit sketchy in my mind, but I recall that about six months after I took the engineering job, I walked into (EV founder) Al Kahn’s office and inquired about getting into marketing. Al remembers this conversation better than I do – years later he said my words were “keep an eye on me.” But the crux was that I thought I could do more for the company in marketing than in engineering.
So they put me on the distribution list for rep and dealer bulletins, new literature, new-product introductions and the like. Then they asked me to introduce a microphone I’d worked on to our reps at a national sales meeting. This didn’t bother me at all. I had a ball doing it, and it wasn’t long until I was product manager for EV commercial sound.