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.


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171 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.


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When you had sleepovers as a child, what did you call the makeshift beds you made on the floor? In some places, you call those bedclothes and blank...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WRFA-LP, KVSC, WUOT 91.9 FM and more

  • Added: Sep 28, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Jacuzzi and silhouette are eponyms – that is, they derive from the names of people. An Italian immigrant to California invented the bubbly hot tub ...

Bought by WSLR, WMMT, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WPCA-LP, WNIN and more

  • Added: Sep 22, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
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The emotional appeal of handwriting and the emotional reveal of animal phrases. Should children be taught cursive writing in school, or is their ti...

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

  • Added: Sep 15, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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Some TV commercials launch catchphrases that stick around long after the original ads. The exclamation Good stuff, Maynard! is still a compliment a...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTXK, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP, WPCA-LP and more

  • Added: Sep 08, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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If you speak both German and Spanish, you may find yourself reaching for a German word instead of a Spanish one, and vice versa. This puzzling expe...

Bought by KTXK, Royalton Community Radio, WRFA-LP, Tri States Public Radio, WYAP and more

  • Added: Sep 01, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
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How does social context shape our perception of language? When hiking the Appalachian Trail, a young woman from Wyoming found that fellow hikers a...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP, WPCA-LP and more

  • Added: Aug 24, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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Chances are you recognize the expressions Judgment Day and the root of all evil as phrases from the Bible. There are many others, though, some of w...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTXK, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP, WPCA-LP and more

  • Added: Aug 17, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
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What happens in a classroom of refugee and immigrant youngsters learning English? Their fresh approach to language can result in remarkable poetry ...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTXK, KZMU Moab Community Radio, WCMU Michigan, KQRU FM LP and more

  • Added: Aug 10, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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We have books that should be on every language lover's wish list, plus a couple of recommendations for history buffs. Plus: how did the word boondo...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTXK, KQRU FM LP, WCMU Michigan, WRFA-LP and more

  • Added: Aug 04, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
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Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTXK, RadioStPete Florida, WSLR and more

  • Added: Jul 27, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17