Communication: Assistant Professor
John Capo was born and raised in New York City and moved to Williamsport in 2020 to join the faculty of Lycoming College. His background includes experience on the corporate and creative sides of the entertainment industry, social media, politics, and the digital arts. He previously taught at New York University, The City University of New York, and The Fashion Institute of Technology.
His courses have centered on media analysis and the study of mass communication for business and creative purposes, social media theory, public relations, advertising, speechwriting, public speaking, and the influence of gender in business, academic, and interpersonal settings.
He has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Crain’s Business, Fast Company, PR Daily, The Today Show, TMZ, and others.
For four years, Capo was the director of public relations for The Snapple Center, Snapple’s branded entertainment complex in Times Square. As president of John Capo Public Relations, his consulting firm, he gained media coverage for clients in NYC’s film, theater, and live event industries. His clients have won the Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards.
He has worked as a political speechwriter and he served as Senior Media Advisor for a 2018 New York State Senate campaign. In this role he devised traditional and social media strategy, conducted debate prep sessions, and contributed to the writing of policy platforms.
As a moderator of Reddit's 20-million-member "Ask Me Anything" community, he specializes in creating and growing online communities and digital brands by studying how and why people behave online. For Reddit, he has helped journalists, politicians, celebrities, and "ordinary people with extraordinary tales" tell their stories in uncensored, open forum-style Q&As with a global audience. Past participants in the community include former President Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Edward Snowden, NASA astronauts live from the International Space Station, and Cookie Monster.
He curated Reddit’s 2018 Spotlight on Journalism, an interactive project where 45 journalists from seven continents conducted live, uncensored Q&As on the topic of press freedom. Participants reflected a global spectrum of varying levels of media freedom and political persuasions, including Uganda’s Daily Monitor, Iran’s Donya ye Bazi, The Jerusalem Post, Daily News Egypt, Russia’s Pravda, the famed Boston Globe “Spotlight” team, Fox News Chief Political Anchor Bret Baier, American Conservative Magazine, the survivors of the Capital Gazette newsroom mass shooting, the student editors of Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School newspaper, and more.
He co-created The NYC Drone Film Festival, the world’s first film festival dedicated to movies shot by drones, sponsored by GE and NBC News. He created FEARnyc, NYC’s biggest horror film festival, which has been praised by The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly and called “a huge, authoritative horror film festival” by Time Out New York and “The best thing happening in the entire country this October” by horror publication Dread Central.
He produced the musical versions of Saved By The Bell and the cult classic flop film Showgirls. Both are New York Times Critics Picks that have been featured on MTV and spent years playing to audiences in New York and touring North America. He handled media relations for the musical version of Beverly Hills, 90210 and for Katdashians, a parody of the Kardashians that reimagined the family as cats, set to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats.
Capo created and hosted The Pop Show, a concert series at Birdland featuring Broadway and nightlife talent performing the song catalogs of such pop artists as Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Elton John, and Adele. The program raised funds for VH1’s Save the Music, Books for Africa, and The Trevor Project.
He has managed events at such venues as Citi Field, Bryant Park, The Liberty Science Center, The Nuyorican Poets Café, The Rainbow Room, The Italian Embassy, and the flagship stores of Bloomingdales and Kiehl’s. He began his career in the development department at TheatreworksUSA, the nation’s largest provider of live touring family entertainment.
Capo also has experience as a creative. He won the 2011 New York Television Festival Pitch Contest and his winning pitch was turned into one of iTunes’ first digital series. The series received one win and another nomination at the Independent Series Awards.
In New York, Capo directed Frank Gilroy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama The Subject Was Roses, which Backstage praised for its “compelling depth, strong performances, and vigorous portrayals”. Talkin’ Broadway said “Capo has directed the production thoughtfully and created with his actors a number of sublimely moving moments. This The Subject Was Roses is relevant and worth savoring while it lasts.”
He directed Terrence McNally’s farce It’s Only A Play. Talkin’ Broadway said “Capo’s portrayal and choice of shows proves he's more than willing to tackle unusual challenges.” Theatre Resources Unlimited said “The multi-talented Capo captures a dark, quirky quality that works quite well.” The production was praised as “remarkably solid” (Theatermania) and for its “welcome hilarity” (NYTheatre.com).
Capo’s play Tricks of the Trade premiered at Greenwich Village’s famed Duplex in an eight-week run that sold out before the play opened. The Drama Review said "Capo's witty and topical writing is at its best when it bounces and lashes from the mouths of his characters while simultaneously weighted down by an unbearable yet identifiable angst. With all its angst, shame and guilt disguised by wit, humor and sex, Tricks of the Trade is a telling and timely love story.” The Blade said “Capo is onto something. He conveys—without directly saying so—a sense of foreboding about the future of their lives in the face of an Orwellian never-ending war on terror, ever-diminishing job prospects, and a been-there-done-that world-weary culture.” NYTheatre.com said “Capo is not afraid to push the envelope. He has written many cutting and topical jokes that kept the audience laughing throughout.”
Most recently, Capo wrote and directed The Lost Ones. Blending narrative storytelling, direct address, and the actual songs of the artists, the project envisioned what might happen if Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, and Karen Carpenter met in the afterlife.
A former member of Actors Equity Association, his New York acting credits include Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons, the title role in MacBush, David Smith in Rock-a My Soul: The Susan Smith Story, John Buchanan, Jr. in Summer and Smoke, Orlando in The Conduct of Life, President George W. Bush in The Unconvention, Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Show, Charles Guiteau in Assassins, Younger Brother in Ragtime, Bill Austin in Mamma Mia!, and various roles on Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade and in the long-running interactive comedy Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding.
He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, the union of film, television, and news writers, and a former member of the board of directors of The Off Broadway Alliance, an organization fostering collaboration between theater professionals.
Research and Academic Activities
At Stony Brook University, Professor Capo studied the characteristics and motivations of Generation Z in his thesis. He has written papers on mental health awareness and crisis management and prevention on college campuses, as well as a series of papers on challenges faced by specific subsets of the college population including trandgender people, Muslims, and Republicans.
For CUNY, Capo has given presentations on the psychological pressures faced by recent college graduates during the job search process and on the integration of FlipBoard into the classroom. He also served on the Communication Studies Curriculum and Assessment Committee. For SUNY, he was a member of the Advertising and Marketing Communications Curriculum Committee and the faculty advisor for the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business Career Fair, the Broadway Advertising and Public Relations Symposium with the Advertising and PR Agencies of Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera, and for Couch Commencement, a seven-day event featuring speeches for the class of 2020 by 50 notable individuals direct from their couches during NYC’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order.
Current Research Agenda
Why Cancel Culture is Killing Brands, Stifling Creativity, and Destroying the Soul of America, and What You Can Do To Stop It
Fake News: Understanding Disinformation in the Digital Age
90’s and 2000s Nostalgia as a Driving Force in Present-Day Marketing
Storytelling on the Web: What We Can Learn from Gatorade’s Replay Challenge, The Red Bull Stratos Jump, and Always’ “Like A Girl” Campaign
The Platinum Age: How Premium and Streaming Entertainment Changed the Game for Audiences and Advertisers
Capo is an avid fan of baseball, horror movies, and napping.