John Piper is a man of his community. He believes that he is part of something larger than himself, something that gives life a greater meaning. His work at Capital Community Television (CCTV) encapsulates that belief. He, together with Alan Bushong – the first executive director at CCTV – have spent the past 30 years helping to knit together a community by televising events in Salem-Keizer. No small part of these “ties that bind” have been the activities and accomplishments of our student-athletes. In connecting our community to our high schools through athletics, they have reinforced the notion that high school sports matter. They have strengthened our community.
John Piper was working in the communications office for the Salem-Keizer Public Schools when he got a phone call that would change his life. Alan Bushong wanted to discuss televising local high school sports. The result was a 30-year partnership that helped bring thousands of hours of school-related programming to cable TV viewers in the Salem-Keizer area, much of it high school athletics.
This new partnership was beneficial to both CCTV and the school district. School programs helped CCTV attract viewers while giving students and school staff members positive exposure and recognition on local television. Alan and John knew that a large part of what brings schools and communities together are their sports. They agreed that the athletes of each Salem-Keizer high school should be represented on CCTV and that both boys and girls sports should be televised. While football and boys and girls basketball have received the most coverage, CCTV has also televised soccer, volleyball, wrestling, swimming, lacrosse, baseball, softball, and even tennis for a few years.
While Piper served as the school district’s liaison with CCTV in the early years, he has most often been the “face” of CCTV broadcasting. While Bushong most often worked behind the scenes putting together the “puzzle” that is CCTV and a high school sports broadcast, John has volunteered thousands of hours and worked with a large cadre of fellow volunteer “color” commentators in front of the cameras. His love of athletics and his passion for bringing them to a wider audience came through to his audiences. He became an “expert” on all things sport so that he could describe the action in a knowledgeable manner. He loved the excitement of the games themselves but also the process of working with Alan, the CCTV staff, and volunteer crew members. John also had a standard. He wanted the games to be presented in a manner of which both he, CCTV, and the community could be proud.
In addition to high school sports, Piper has announced hundreds of Willamette, Corban, and Chemeketa basketball games. He especially enjoyed covering Salem-Keizer athletes who went on to play for local colleges. For example, the 1995 Chemeketa women's basketball team, which won the NWAC championship on its home court, featured one starter from McKay and one from McNary.
“High school and small college sports are lots of fun to announce”, John says, “because the athletes are playing for the love of the game. The addition of cheerleaders, pep bands, and fans from each school makes the games even more enjoyable.” That joy came through our television screens.
John is so very proud of CCTV. When it later added school music programming (again behind Alan's leadership) to its schedule, showcasing Salem-Keizer’s outstanding music programs, viewers had the opportunity to watch thousands of middle and high school musicians perform at city-wide concerts and competitions, as well as at the state music contests. More kids, more recognition, more community.
Piper is a professional who has worked hard to bring professionalism to CCTV’s telecasts. He comes prepared to do right by the participants and make the experience of being on TV one that they can remember. His postgame interviews alone have allowed both players and coaches one last chance to shine before wrapping up a telecast, creating lifetime memories and allowing the community the opportunity to better meet the athletes and coaches of Salem-Keizer.
In addition to announcing, John has made other contributions to CCTV’s athletic coverage. He has produced more than 200 programs in the “Classic Sports” series which showcases the best games from CCTV’s archives. And, for several years he produced reports on the Salem Sports & Breakfast Club’s Athletes of the Week awards, as well as the Club’s year-end Athletes of the Year awards.
John retired from announcing in 2021, after 30 years. He has many fond memories of the thousands of athletes and coaches he’s covered over 30 years. Among the highlights: announcing state basketball tournaments from Mac Court at the University of Oregon and the Chiles Center at the University of Portland, as well as the state baseball and softball championships. But he stresses that while playoff and championship games stand out, he has also enjoyed the hundreds of regular season games he’s announced. “It doesn’t matter what their records are,” he says, “it’s fun to watch the players and coaches do their best to come out on top.”
In addition to volunteering with CCTV, Piper has become a weekend fixture at South Salem High School. Go by on any Sunday and you are likely to see John lugging around containers into which he dumps trash, the leaves he's raked, etc. Just helping out. John and his wife Karen have lived near the school since 1979, and their son Greg is a South Salem graduate.
John is proud of his volunteer efforts with CCTV and his contributions to Salem-Keizer athletics. “School activities add so much to the educational program. It’s very satisfying to have been involved with CCTV and Salem-Keizer Public Schools over the last 30 years.”
John Piper bringing our Salem-Keizer high school sports to life for Capital Community Television couldn't have been more appropriate because at his core John Piper is “community”. John Piper is a Beacon.