It’s fund drive season again, and I think I already covered pretty thoroughly how the drives work for those of us behind the microphones. Most of the operation stays the same from drive to drive, because it works pretty well as it is, but every so often something new and cool happens to make it more fun.

A Tweet from NPR reads: "Dolly Parton has a message for NPR listeners on #NationalRadioDay" The message includes Dolly's message "I believe everybody ought to know what's going on, and public radio makes it possible."

The Dolly Parton promo is just what you’d expect from her – it’s lively, funny, smart and sweet. And as several of my coworkers noted, it’s kind of hilarious and adorable that Dolly Parton feels the need to explain that she’s “a singer and songwriter,” as if she wasn’t one of the biggest names in music and entertainment already. But, as the youngest of the Carlson Kids showed me not so long ago, sometimes we remember people in different ways.

Music is a big, big deal to me. It is always playing in my head except for when it’s playing in my house. And I listen to everything I can, from loud rock to quiet folk, funk and jazz and electronica and hip hop and classical. And country, which was one of my dad’s favorites. For him, the sadder the country song was, the better it sounded, so he played a lot of Vern Gosdin and George Jones and Merle Haggard tunes about broken hearts and broken lives. But he also loved a good pop song – his record collection was, like, country and ABBA – and so for him Dolly Parton was the best of both worlds and we heard a lot of her growing up. And I play her music for the kids at home, and some of the mournful country too, but we play so many different artists that some names stick better than others.

Dolly’s name stuck in my household in spring of 2020. When the coronavirus became a national emergency, they shut down the schools to help keep everyone safe, and because it happened so abruptly there wasn’t a lot of time to set up a remote version of classes. My kids’ teachers did amazing things to keep them engaged with each other and with learning, but there was still a lot of time during the day when my wife and I were giving them stuff to do. And one of them was a video series from Dolly. As part of her Imagination Library project, she started reading a bedtime story each Thursday night for kids who were stuck at home and maybe craving more books. We watched them in the morning, not before bed, but these videos from “The Book Lady” were a big hit.

The series ended after maybe a dozen videos, because at that point who knew that stay-at-home would drag on for as long as it has, but every so often when there was news about Dolly Parton I’d mention to the kids that “The Book Lady” had donated some money to help fund the Moderna vaccine, or whatever it was that she was up to. Then, one day last summer, I was playing music while the kids were building with LEGO or something and I put on “Jolene.”

I turned to my youngest, who was four at the time, and said, “do you know who’s singing?” She did not.

So I told her. “It’s Dolly Parton. That’s the Book Lady.”

Her eyes got wide and she says, “DOLLY PARTON IS A SINGER?!?”