Sam Ford on the Imagine a Place podcast

Why pop culture matters.

In this episode, we’re going to discuss soap operas, anime, Visco Girls, and pro-wrestling… and it’s going to be one of the most intellectual dialogs that we’ve had on this show. Sam Ford is an expert on Pop Culture - And if you think pop culture doesn’t matter, then you might be missing the bigger picture. Culture is messy and Sam is here today to help us decode it.

Sam Ford is an MIT Media Alum, Professor, and Consultant who is currently leading Kentucky’s largest initiative to rebrand their economy. Sam works on media innovation, cultural intelligence, and storytelling experimentation with a wide range of organizations. In our episode today, he delivers insights that will help you understand media and cultural trends through a new lens.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Pop culture and society
  • Media effects on communication
  • Cultural significance of social media
  • Storytelling 

More about Sam Ford: 

Sam Ford works on models, strategies, and implementation for media innovation, audience engagement, cultural intelligence, and storytelling experimentation. He has provided these services to a wide range of organizations, including ViacomCBS/Simon & Schuster, Univision/Fusion Media Group, Peppercomm, WNYC/New York Public Radio, Lowe’s/Orchard Supply Hardware, the University of Southern California, ORBmedia, MacArthur Foundation, Microsoft, The Coca-Cola Company, Poynter, the U.S. Department of State, and the American Press Institute.

Sam is also a research affiliate of MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing, a Knight News Innovation Fellow with Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism, an adjunct instructor in the Department of Communication at Western Kentucky University, and executive director of the nonprofit Accelerate Kentucky. Sam is co-author, with Henry Jenkins and Joshua Green, of the 2013 NYU Press book Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture, a result of the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium research group he co-founded and helped manage.

He is also co-editor, with Abigail De Kosnik and C. Lee Harrington, of the 2011 book The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a New Media Era, and has published more than 25 academic essays on media fandom, transmedia storytelling, professional wrestling, soap operas, the marketing and communications world, and a range of other subjects. Sam lives in Bowling Green, KY, with his wife Amanda and daughters Collins, Harper, and Emma.

Related Imagine a Place episodes:

Martin Flaherty (Pencilbox): Funny by design

Christian Giordano: Design is due for reinvention

James Kerrigan (Jacobs): Culture, place, and tools: The future of place making


  • Doug Shapiro
  • Sam Ford
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