‘Community Auditions’ was the local granddaddy of talent shows


By Sharon Oliver, Contributing Writer

Boston radio and TV personality Dave Maynard hosted the local television talent show “Community Auditions” from 1965 to 1987.
Boston radio and TV personality Dave Maynard hosted the local television talent show “Community Auditions” from 1965 to 1987.

BOSTON – Decades before “American Idol,” or “America’s Got Talent” made their debut on the small screen, some New Englanders had already left great impressions on audiences thanks to Boston’s television program “Community Auditions.” In fact, there are contestants who did go on to successful Hollywood careers.


A long run

Community Auditions,” which ran from 1950 to 1987 on Sunday mornings on WBZ-TV, was Boston’s longest-running local talent competition show and originally emceed by Gene Jones. In 1965, popular radio and TV personality Dave Maynard took over the reins where local performers would appear on the half-hour show to compete for a modest prize, a trophy, bragging rights and accolades from a viewing audience. Viewers were encouraged to send postcards voting for their favorite contestant.

Gary D’Alessandro and his Shrewsbury band the Wildcats were freshmen in high school when they performed on “Community Auditions” in 1965, winning second place. “Even without a prize, we would have done it anyway. It was a lot of fun,” said D’Alessandro in a 2007 story in the MetroWest Daily News. “I have no idea where we got the nerve to do this. I don’t think we questioned it very much.”


Stepping stone for future stars

During the 1980s, Lowell native and star of “E.R.” and “Band of BrothersScott Grimes sang and won first place on the show for his exceptional rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” A 12-year-old Sarah Silverman also sang and competed on “Community Auditions,” as did 2016 “Best New Artist” Grammy winner Meghan Trainor (after the show was restored in 2007 as “Community Auditions – Star of the Day”). 

Maynard’s singing of the question Star of the day! Who will it be?” caused hope to rise in New Englanders who wanted a chance to shine. At the end of each episode, contestants joined Maynard in singing the lyrics to the show’s theme song, “Star of the Day.”

According to Maynard, “It was the number one show in that time slot,” Maynard told the MetroWest Daily News. “It wasn’t prime time, but who cares when you are number one.  really loved doing the show. Everybody was on that show.”

“It was a very honest show with magicians, tap dancers, singers, comedians, and impersonators,” Maynard added. “There were themed competitions just for policemen, firemen, and people in their 80s and over. It was great.”


Host goes on to radio fame

In 1979, Maynard began doing nighttime talk radio. One of his most memorable on-air moments happened one night when he kept a suicidal caller on the air for over an hour, saving the man’s life after his producer called police to track down his whereabouts. The caller announced he had just swallowed 50 pills of the anti-coagulant drug Coumadin and downed a bottle of 100-proof vodka. The man was later identified as a retired police officer who wanted to speak with Maynard’s guest, Dr. Ari Kiev, who had written a book for those considering suicide.

Listeners from across the country and Canada tuned in as Kiev and Maynard kept the man talking until police arrived at his home.

“It was like a movie script,” Maynard told the Boston Globe afterward. “My heart was in my mouth most of the time.’’

A year later, he was offered a morning spot and “Maynard in the Morning became the number one-rated morning radio show in Boston. Dave Maynard died in 2012 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 82.



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