"Big Ron" O'Brien, 56, a disc jockey who spent more than a decade in Los Angeles radio and was host of a weekday afternoon show on KIIS-FM (102.7), died Sunday from complications of pneumonia, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia announced on its website. O'Brien had been hospitalized in Paoli, Pa.
Since 2002, he had worked at WOGL-FM (98.1), a Philadelphia station that plays classic pop.
Don Barrett, publisher of LARadio.com, called O'Brien "one of those passionate radio people who electrified his audience every time he flipped on the microphone."
At KIIS-FM, O'Brien was on the air from 1982 to 1987 and again from 1992 to 1993. He had "an easy rapport with his audience," The Times noted in 1986.
Between 1979 and 1993, O'Brien also worked in local radio at KFI-AM (640), KROQ-FM (106.7), KKBT-FM (92.3) and KSRF-FM (103.1).
Born Richard Walls on Oct. 24, 1951, he chose to go by Ron O'Brien on the radio. His first name evolved into "Big Ron," a reflection of his size.
After starting his career in 1969 as a top 40 radio personality in Kansas City, O'Brien also worked for stations in Denver, Atlanta, Chicago and Milwaukee.