Joe Commare, ESPN’s First Director of Remote Ops, Passes Away at 84 Following Short Illness
Joe Commare, ESPN’s first director of remote operations and remote broadcasting pioneer and a Bristol, CT native, passed away on December 11 after a short illness. He was 84 and is survived by his sons Joe and Andy, stepchildren Rhonda Champagne and her brothers Joel and Gregg Chambers, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His wife of nearly 30 years, Patricia, passed away in August 2016.
Commare’s career began in 1958 at WPTV West Palm Beach where he ran camera and began designing broadcast facilities for Florida Atlantic University. A move north took him to WKBS Philadelphia and to Transmedia, an early mobile production company based in Trenton, NJ. In 1972, Commare joined ABC in New York, where he progressed from the tape room to director of field operations, running the field shop in Lodi, NJ.
From there it was off to NBC Sports for a short time as a special events tech manager, where he was then recruited by Scotty Connal to go up to Connecticut and join the then fledgling ESPN. Commare loved the challenge of building an engineering department from the ground up and also his “guys” and remembered the early days fondly, often speaking about how he missed it all.
After ESPN, he joined Oklahoma State University as director of engineering. He was then a lead tech manager at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the 1994 World Cup Soccer matches in Atlanta before retiring and settling in San Antonio, Texas.
Over the course of his 40-year career, Joe received many awards, including four technical Emmys. He loved this business and, even in retirement, continued to teach audio skills and find used gear for churches throughout the southeast.
Bill Rassmussen, founder of ESPN said, “Such an integral part of building and selling the dream that became the most powerful name in sports television – ESPN. Joe’s fingerprints were all over those early days. The gentleman, the smile, the talent will long live in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to work with and learn from him.”
“He loved our business, he loved TV trucks, and he loved the satisfaction of closing the bay door on the power cables and sending the truck off to its next gig,” says his son Joe Commare who is Riedel Communications marketing manager.“Truck’s gotta roll!”