Joe McDonnell, the gentle-giant sports talk personality who entertained and informed L.A. radio audiences for nearly four decades, died today at a Los Angeles hospital after a brief illness. He was 58. No cause of death was reported.
Popular among fans, players and colleagues for his passion for the games, good humor and brutal honesty, McDonnell was known around town as “Big Joe,” while often referring to himself as “The Big Nasty.” He worked all across the L.A. AM radio dial after getting his start as a teenager at KGIL from 1975-82. Among his most popular gigs was McDonnell Douglas, an afternoon-drive show he hosted with Long Beach Press-Telegram writer Doug Krikorian on KSPN from 2000-05. They reunited in 2012 for a short-lived Internet show.
A regular at L.A. sporting events, McDonnell was easy to pick out of a crowd: He topped out at more than 730 pounds before undergoing gastric bypass surgery and losing 400-plus. But his size never kept him from getting a scoop, as he was as “in” with local stars as any sportscaster in town.
McDonnell also did stints at KFI, KMPC, KMAX, KABC (twice), KXTA, KFWB and KLAC. Most recently, he did fill-in work at all-news outlet KNX.