In August of 1989, the City of Salem and Marion County incorporated Capital Community Television (CCTV) and appointed a start-up Board of Directors. That Board hired Austin (Texas) Community Television Director Alan Bushong to bring local, non-commercial community television to the greater-Salem area. That decision brought about a television station that helped tie together the Salem-Keizer community. Many of those ties were the result of promoting high school activities and, especially, high school sports.
Caught in between the media markets of Portland and Eugene, Salem was, and continues to be, the largest state capital with no local broadcast television. Alan Bushong was given the charge of putting the Salem-Keizer community on TV, helping to build community identity and pride.
Alan worked for 31 years to meet this charge, retiring in 2020. He gave this community a presence in media to build a sense of community. CCTV is now Capital Community Media. “CC:Media” now includes three television channels, a shared full power FM radio station, and ongoing streaming. CCTV worked overtime to fulfill the dream of the founders by providing greater access to the work of local governments, media support for non-profit organizations and individuals, and a showcase for the work of students, teachers, coaches, and parent volunteers. By all counts, Alan fulfilled his mission.
Alan grew up on the edge of Darlington, Indiana. The farm town of 714 was smaller than his high school graduating class of 806 in Michigan City. He graduated from Purdue University where he met his wife Jacinta. Alan’s parents were Depression-era, “waste not-want not” people who were first generation “off the farm”. He is thankful for the life lessons he received from his parents and especially the opportunity for an education. He recognizes that his opportunities in life have been provided by ancestors whose shoulders he stands on—people who had little opportunity of their own. He doubts that any of his grandparents even graduated from high school.
Starting in 1978, Bushong had the great fortune to begin working at Austin Community Television. It was the formative years of community television. After eleven years at ACTV, he jumped at the chance to build a start up community television station in Salem. Salem had a void of local TV. Alan saw the opportunity to join a new community and build bridges through something he loved.
In the beginning the community was indeed hungry for a presence on TV. The challenge was to use City of Salem and Marion County cable franchise resources to make a community media organization second to none. CCTV wanted to make the founders, the City of Salem, Marion County and this
community proud. And the new board gave great advice: “put the kids TV”.
Early on Alan met fellow Beacon John Piper. John was part of the Salem-Keizer School District communications staff and the work with schools began. John Piper went on to announce nearly every Salem-Keizer high school sport for the next 30 years as the “Voice of CCTV”. Alan also met Mark Gilman that autumn of 1990. CC:Media continues to use Mark’s radio announcing on high school football games, a truly collegial partnership that now exceeds 200 high school games.
Production started in the fall of 1990 to cover the work of schools, student-athletes, and coaches. With a staff of three, CCTV designed and purchased a production truck and trained volunteers. The first high school event was a football game recorded Sept. 21, 1990. Final score: McKay 27, Corvallis 6.
In 1991 Salem-Keizer's Music Supervisor Karl Raschkes asked Alan to consider coverage of the
performing arts. Karl was in the process of building the local music education program into a Pacific Northwest powerhouse. The partnership started with high school choirs, bands and orchestras. Middle school music groups were soon added.
In 2001 CCTV began a partnership with the Oregon School Activities Association that enabled coverage of high school playoff games and state music competitions. Thousands of students have participated in these televised events and thousands of parents and community members got to watch Salem-Keizer kids excel in sports and activities. The kids were indeed on TV!
In 2008 CCTV opened a new, state-of-the-art community media center at 575 Trade Street. The 9400 square foot center replaced a long-outgrown 2400 square foot center in the plaza level of the Salem Public Library. The new center features two studios, an education wing, editing and equipment check-out areas and the equipment necessary to deliver programs to the home. In 2022, the center will add a multi-media wing that combines television, internet, and radio distribution of programs.
Bushong is the first to say that all too often he alone gets the credit for the work done by many dedicated volunteers and his talented staff colleagues. Over the years it’s often difficult to tell the difference between CCTV staff and volunteers because so many faces remained over so many years. Those very dedicated volunteers have enabled CCTV to bring events to the Salem-Keizer community that otherwise could not have happened. Many more community organizations were helped and promoted than the staff could have done alone. Alan is especially proud of the volunteer announcing teams that covered high school sports, including the inclusion of women. CCTV “was years ahead of network TV’s inclusion of women as announcers.”
Alan remains passionate about community media, currently volunteering on almost as many sports and music programs as he worked while on staff. CC:Media will boldly go into a media future that he hopes will include him and continue to include high school sports. When asked why CC:Media will continue to build on the past 32 years, Bushong's answer would be brief and simple: “Our community is important”.
Alan and Jacinta's daughter Erica graduated from Sprague High School in 2001. As a junior and band council president, she was a part of the music program that won the Grammy as the best public school music education program in the nation.
Alan Bushong nurtured CCTV from the beginning. He has guided its growth for 30 years, from just a concept into a media organization that is vital to the Salem-Keizer community. CCTV has showcased the youth of Salem-Keizer and, most especially, its athletes. Alan realized the importance of high school sports and activities as a vehicle to build community and made sure that others saw it that way as well. He has built community and school athletics and activities one school event at a time. He did, in fact, “put the kids on TV”. For that, Alan Bushong is a Beacon.