Bob Azurdia was born in Liverpool but his family’s origins lay in Central America. In the early 20th century his grandfather, Joseph Robert Azurdia was appointed the Guatemalan Consul General in Liverpool. A doctor by profession, he also taught at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. When he returned to Guatemala two of his children, Leonora and Robert, elected to stay in Liverpool. Robert, who followed his father into the medical profession, married a local girl, Josephine Kelly, and on 29th June 1935 the first child was born, christened Joseph Peter Paul Robert.
Robert Azurdia had a practice at 68 Park Road, Toxteth, and at the time of Bob’s birth the family lived at 4 Princes Avenue L8, later moving to a large house called Villa Gloria at 45 Cooper Avenue South L19. (The house was demolished, the site now being a small development named Villa Gloria Close).
After attending St Edward’s College Bob Azurdia attended Liverpool University an read law. However, failing his final exams, he had to ponder on an alternative career. After doing his National Service in the army, attaining the rank of sergeant, he decided to try his hand at journalism, his first job being with the Liverpool Weekly News. A lover of music, he also contributed copy to Melody Maker and Merseybeat. This led to him being summoned to Brian Epstein to hear the Beatles’ first recording with a request that he give it a good plug in Merseybeat. In December 1961 he joined the Catholic Pictorial where he was to stay for six years.
In September 1964 he married Mariuccia Sebastiani, who came from Carrera in Italy. In the autumn of 1967 he came across an advert for jobs with the new local station Radio Merseyside and thought long and hard about whether to stick with the security of his position on the Catholic Pictorial or to switch media and see if he could be a successful broadcaster. At the last minute he submitted an application and when Radio Merseyside launched on 22nd November 1967 he was part of their team, initially as Head of Religious Programmes.
Over the next 30 years Bob Azurdia would become one of the most well-known voices on Merseyside, broadcasting on a wide range of topics and involving himself in a myriad of activities in the wider social, cultural and sporting life of the city. He interviewed many famous figures for the station, from leading politicians to such giants of popular music as Louis Armstrong and Frankie Laine. He covered many great sporting events involving Merseyside teams and individuals and had a particularly ‘lively’ relationship with Liverpool manager Bill Shankly. At one post match press conference Shankly replied to him “I’ve been asked a lot of stupid questions during my time in football, Bob, and you’ve asked most of them !”. He was a fervent organiser of charity events, appearing alongside the likes of Brian Labone and Roger hunt in charity matches and running countless marathons to raise funds. Another of his role’s at Radio Merseyside was as the question master in the quiz competition for local teams called Heads You Win.
His untimely death came on 21st January 1996 when he collapsed shortly after completing a half-marathon at Helsby, Cheshire. He was buried at St Austin’s Church on Aigburth Road. He had been a key figure in shaping local broadcasting in the city, setting high standards for its journalism and providing an element of human character which contributed to the station’s personality.
He lived for a time at 20 Ranelagh Drive North L19, and then at 7 Elmswood Road L17.
The Azurdia family home at the time of Bob's birth in 1935.
Bob Azurdia's home c.1969
Azurdia home c. 1970s onwards
Commemorative plaque in St Austin's churchyard on Aigburth Road.
The best source on Bob Azurdia is the small book written by his one-time Radio Merseyside colleague, Roger Lyon, The Late (as usual) Bob Azurdia . There are clips of his radio interviews to be found on YouTube.
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