KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Music is his hobby. WATE-TV’s control room is where former audio technician Ray Rose spent most of his work life.

Fifty-six years behind the scenes at WATE, from Sept. 1, 1956, to Sept. 1, 2012.

His first memory? Meeting Dolly Parton.

“When I came to work here,” Rose remembered, “she would’ve been 10 years old. She’s 10 years younger than I am and I came here at 20.”

Dolly was already singing on a couple of local live television programs.

But what struck Rose was Dolly’s interest in the business side of TV, as he first shared in a WATE story on Dolly back in 1986.

“When she wasn’t on the air, she would come back and stand behind the audio console and watch all of what I was doing, the director, and all behind-the-scenes,” Rose said at that time.

He still talks about that impression today.

“She would come in the door, which was right behind me, and she would stand and watch everything that we did in the control room,” Rose said. “She wasn’t just interested in singing, she was interested in showbiz. She was, I think you know, very aware of things around her, not just ‘Hey, I’m on TV’.”

That trademark Dolly humility is just part of who she is.

Happy 75th birthday, Dolly, from all of us at WATE 6 On Your Side. We are grateful to be part of your story. Ray Rose also has a message for you:

“We were just … looking back on it; amazed at the things you were taking in and learning and just, you know, happy birthday and many more.”