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.

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.

There are no carriage fees. You can begin carrying the program right away. Email or call for details: biz@waywordradio.org, 646 286 2260. 


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, races, 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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217 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.


Pieces

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What's the best way for someone busy to learn lots of new words quickly for a test like the GRE? Looking up their origins can help. Or record yours...

Bought by WEZU, KREV-LP, WSLR, WMUU-LP, WYAP and more


  • Added: Jun 01, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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Why do we call a frankfurter a "hot dog"? It seems an unsettling 19th-century rumor is to blame. Also, if someone quits something abruptly, why do ...

Bought by WEZU, KREV-LP, WSLR, WMUU-LP, WYAP and more


  • Added: May 26, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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A caller with a 25-year-old parrot wonders: How much language do birds really understand? Plus, Knock-knock. Who's there? Boo. Well . . .  you can ...

Bought by WEZU, KREV-LP, WNJR, WSLR, WETD and more


  • Added: May 18, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Victorian slang and a modern controversy over language and gender. In the early 1900's, a door-knocker wasn't just what visitors used to announce t...

Bought by WEZU, KREV-LP, WSLR, KTSW 89.9, WNJR and more


  • Added: May 11, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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The months of September, October, November, and December take their names from Latin words meaning "seven," "eight," "nine," and "ten." So why don'...

Bought by WEZU, KREV-LP, WETD, WSLR, WNJR and more


  • Added: May 04, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
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When it comes to learning new things, what's on your bucket list? A retired book editor decided to try to learn Latin, and ended up learning a lot ...

Bought by WEZU, KREV-LP, WNJR, WSLR, WYAP and more


  • Added: Apr 27, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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In the military, if you've "lost the bubble," then you can't find your bearings. The term first referred to calibrating the position of aircraft an...

Bought by WEZU, WSLR, WYAP, KTSW 89.9, WEZU and more


  • Added: Apr 20, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Books for sale, books for free, and wisdom passed down through the ages. Libraries aren't just repositories for books -- they're often a great plac...

Bought by WEZU, WNJR, WSLR, WETD, KREV-LP and more


  • Added: Apr 13, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
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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 WEZU, WNJR, KREV-LP, WSLR, WHRV and more


  • Added: Apr 06, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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Restaurant jargon, military slang, and modern Greek turns of phrase. Some restaurants now advertise that they sell "clean" sandwiches. But that doe...

Bought by WEZU, WNJR, KREV-LP, WSLR, WHRV and more


  • Added: Mar 30, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9