A Way with Words

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

The show is conversational, fresh, contemporary. It’s a positive, information-based look at what is really happening with all aspects of language and communication, using anecdotes, culture, relationships, and families as starting points. There’s a lot of first-hand, primary research and professional language experience that informs the dialogue.

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 Grant Barrett for details: grant@waywordradio.org, 646 286 2260. 


Why You Should Carry the Program
  • It costs you nothing, but it's a high-quality national-sounding show.
  • 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 off-air.
  • 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

Caption: Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette
210 Pieces

A Way with Words is a lively hour-long public radio show about language, on the air since 1998. Author Martha Barnette and dictionary editor Grant Barrett take calls about slang, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, and speaking and writing well.


Pieces

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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 ...

  • Added: Oct 15, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
Piece image
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 WYAP, WEZU, and WCMU


  • Added: Oct 09, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 3
Piece image
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 KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WYAP, WEZU, and WCMU


  • Added: Oct 01, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
Piece image
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 KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WEZU, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, Spokane Public Radio and more


  • Added: Sep 24, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Piece image
In deafening workplaces, like sawmills and factories, workers develop their own elaborate sign language to discuss everything from how their weeken...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WEZU, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WCMU and more


  • Added: Sep 17, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Piece image
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 KTSW 89.9, WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WEZU, and WCMU


  • Added: Sep 10, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Piece image
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 KTSW 89.9, KAWC, WYAP, WEZU, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Sep 04, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Piece image
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 KTSW 89.9, WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WEZU, and WCMU


  • Added: Aug 27, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Piece image
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 KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WEZU, WCMU, and KMXT


  • Added: Aug 20, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Piece image
This week on "A Way with Words": The language of political speech. Politicians have to repeat themselves so often that they naturally develop a rep...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, WEZU, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WCMU, and Indie3 Radio


  • Added: Aug 13, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5