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Good golly, Miss Dolly!

There’s always been conversation going on around Dolly McCarthy.

When she was a kid, growing up Dolly Caravette in the neighborhoods on Chicago’s northwest side, her parents made sure that meal times brought lively and purposeful discussion. The 11th of 14 Caravette kids, she mostly listened and observed in her younger years. Now in her 40s, she typically joins in when everyone sits down to sup and chat.

“We have good conversations around the dinner table — religion, politics, you name it,” said McCarthy, a longtime Naperville resident and CLTV news anchor whose Internet radio talk show, “The Dolly McCarthy Show,” marked its 50th broadcast and first year on the air earlier this month.

It comes as no surprise that the back-and-forth of topical conversation drives the hour-long weekly show, which airs at 9:30 a.m. Thursdays at www.blogtalkradio.com/thedollymccarthyshow, on SLAM Internet Radio and on traditional radio at 89.9-FM. McCarthy enjoys the banter and the laughter, but she also relishes having a venue for sharing information about somber and critically important topics — two shows in the past year have focused on heroin — and the region’s many nonprofits, including numerous Naperville causes.

Along with her parents, McCarthy credits her Catholic school upbringing for instilling in her an insatiably inquisitive spirit.

“I’ve always been a curious cat,” she said. “I think that came from my high school teachers, who’d say, ‘OK, what’s the news of the day?’”

The guests on her radio show over the past 12 months have reflected some of that curiosity. In addition to the weekly chat with a representative from at least one area charity, the featured personalities have included an enterprising inventor, a financial adviser, an angel whisperer, renowned country music performers, Broadway stars, and internationally known rock bands. One of McCarthy’s most memorable on-air conversations, however, was with a 19-year-old Naperville North High School graduate whose crusade to prevent teen suicide is called One Moment.

“I’m really in awe of young kids today, when I have them on the show,” said McCarthy, whose own five kids attend District 203 schools. “They’re committed, they have causes they believe in.”

With a huge weekly audience logging or tuning in from as near as her neighborhood and as distant as Rome, McCarthy recognizes she has a considerable microphone. And understanding that Internet listening is different from other modes for consuming radio broadcasts, she takes that seriously.

“When you have 20,000 listeners, they’re all engaged,” she said.

The show wasn’t always that way. “I started it as a hobby,” she said, relating how she soon gained familiarity with the process, and the vast audience, and the ways social media can be enlisted as a valuable partner for cyberbroadcasters — particularly the snowball-like Twittersphere.

McCarthy hopes to make some money for local charities at an event she’s hosting on Friday — which Mayor A. George Pradel has declared Dolly McCarthy Day in Naperville. In his mayoral proclamation, Pradel cited “her continuous presence as a positive voice for the community” among the variables that informed his decision.

The celebration is set for 7 to 10 p.m. Friday at the Chicago Marriott Naperville, 1801 Naper Blvd.

All proceeds from the $30 ticket fee and raffle sales will go to Bike Bald, Kidz Kabaret, Naperville CARES, and Operation Support Our Troops America. Tickets can be purchased at bikebald.com/dolly-s-day.html.

McCarthy, an unabashed fan of all things Naperville, is pleased and humbled to have a day named in her honor. Mostly, however, she is glad to have a way to talk to people, bring their stories to light, and have a hand in helping to make good things happen. She’ll keep hosting her show as long as it continues to be rewarding and fun.

“I’m having a ball,” she said.

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