A Way with Words

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A Way with Words is an upbeat and lively hour-long listener-based call-out radio show about language examined through history, culture, and family.

There are no carriage fees. You can begin carrying the program right away. Email or call for details: biz@waywordradio.org, 619 567 9673. 

The show is conversational, fresh, contemporary at the same time it reflects deep cultural heritage. It’s a positive, information-based look at what is really happening with all aspects of language and communication, using listener questions and anecdotes as starting points answered by first-hand, primary research and professional language experience.

Journalist/author Martha Barnette and linguist/lexicographer Grant Barrett talk with callers from around the world about slang, new words, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, jokes and riddles, and speaking and writing well. They settle disputes, play word quizzes, and discuss language news and controversies.

Why You Should Carry the Program

  • It costs you nothing, but it's a high-quality national-sounding show.
  • Nowhere else on public radio features so many different American voices each week. Includes voices and accents of all ages, regions, ethnicities, and backgrounds. 
  • It’s true audience-service. Everyday public radio listeners are heard. We reflect the community back to itself.
  • Highly loyal listeners who show up in force at stations’ fundraising time.
  • Serves the core public radio mission of informing and entertaining at the same time.
  • Family-friendly.
  • We’ll do live on-air pitching to help you at pledge time, if schedules allow.
  • We’ll tell podcast listeners and social media about you, so you can reconnect with the part of your audience that is already listening to us online or by podcast.
  • We remind our listeners to pledge stations at pledge time.
  • When we hold public events in your town, we’ll work with you to make sure that’s to your advantage, too.
What Programmers Say About the Show

“WFYI has been extremely pleased with the results of adding A Way with Words to the radio schedule. As a weekend entertainment program, the show delivers quality information and has that ‘discovery’ quality to it that makes it so favorable in comparison to Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Our audience has made this show appointment listening and a part of their weekend routine. And, they call in regularly with great questions!”

— Richard Miles, former VP, Interactive Media & Content Strategy at WFYI, Indianapolis

“Our listeners love A Way with Words. It’s a no-brainer because public radio listeners love words. Your listeners will love A Way with Words, too.”

— Jeff Ramirez, vice president of radio, KERA 90.1 and KXT 91.7, Dallas, Texas

A Way with Words is the perfect public radio show. It engages our audience and gives them an opportunity to think about how they use language, the most fundamental building block of human nature. The show is smart without being academic and funny without being smarmy. You really learn something from Martha and Grant and they clearly enjoy themselves on the show. Their enthusiasm goes a long way in making AWWW one of the more accessible radios shows out there.”

— John Decker, Director of Programming, KPBS-FM and TV, San Diego, California

A Way with Words is NOT your grandmother’s grammar book. Number one, it’s fun. Number two, you learn stuff without even trying. Number three, it’s not just smart, it’s savvy. If you run a public radio station, this program is like manna from heaven — it will make your listeners happy. It will make your listeners gorgeous and brilliant. Most importantly, it will make YOU rich and famous.

“At North Country Public Radio, the show has gone viral. Even in a tough time slot it has attracted a real following … think Prairie Home Companion at 6 pm on Saturdays in the early days. If it’s good, they’ll come. And they sure tune us in for A Way with Words. Try it, your listeners will love it.

“Grant visited the North Country and we thought people would never let him leave. Our listeners LOVE A Way with Words. We haven’t seen this kind of reaction since Wait Wait … or A Prairie Home Companion. Grant and Martha are natural talents. Even if you don’t give two hoots about words, I know you want talented people on your airwaves. These guys are the real deal.”

— Ellen Rocco, Station Manager, North Country Public Radio, Canton, New York

Find out more about the program.

Get the show on PRSS/Content Depot.

Media Materials

Logos, graphics, photos, bios, and press details are here.

Series

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169 Pieces

A Way with Words is a national, lively, hour-long public radio show about language, on the air since 1998. Author/journalist Martha Barnette and linguist/lexicographer Grant Barrett take listener calls about slang, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, and speaking and writing well. There are no carriage fees.


Pieces

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In 1803, a shy British pharmacist wrote a pamphlet that made him a reluctant celebrity. The reason? He proposed a revolutionary new system for clas...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: Oct 22, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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Silence comes in lots of different forms. In fact, says writer Paul Goodman, there are several kinds: There's the noisy silence of "resentment and ...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WEZU and more


  • Added: Oct 15, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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A clever pun can make the difference between a so-so phrase and a memorable one. The phrase "the last straw" refers to an old fable about too many ...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: Oct 09, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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A stereotype is a preconceived notion about a person or group. Originally, though, the word stereotype referring to a printing device used to produ...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: Oct 01, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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Sometimes it's a challenge to give a book a chance: How many pages should you read before deciding it's not worth your time? There's a new formula ...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WEZU and more


  • Added: Sep 24, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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In deafening workplaces, like sawmills and factories, workers develop their own elaborate sign language to discuss everything from how their weeken...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WEZU and more


  • Added: Sep 17, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Sensuous words and terms of endearment. Think of a beautiful word. Now, is it simply the word's sound that makes it beautiful? Or does its appeal a...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WEZU and more


  • Added: Sep 10, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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How often do you hear the words campaign and political in the same breath? Oddly enough, 19th-century grammarians railed against using campaign to ...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KVSC, KTSW 89.9, KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA, WYAP and more


  • Added: Sep 04, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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The names of professional sports teams often have surprising histories -- like the baseball team name inspired by, of all things, trolley-car accid...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WEZU and more


  • Added: Aug 27, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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You may have heard the advice that to build your vocabulary you should read, read, and then read some more--and make sure to include a wide variety...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WEZU, WCMU Michigan and more


  • Added: Aug 20, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6