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
193 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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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 WYAP, WCMU, Spokane Public Radio, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WRIR and more


  • Added: May 20, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Piece image
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 WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WCMU, KTXK, and Spokane Public Radio


  • Added: May 13, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Piece image
How do actors bring Shakespeare's lines to life so that modern audiences immediately understand the text? One way is to emphasize the names of peop...

Bought by KTXK, WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WCMU, and WRIR


  • Added: May 06, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Piece image
Restaurant jargon, military slang, and modern Greek turns of phrase. Some restaurants now advertise that they sell "clean" sandwiches. But that doe...

Bought by WYAP, KTXK, WCMU, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, and WRIR


  • Added: Apr 29, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Piece image
Stunt performers in movies have their own jargon for talking about their dangerous work. They refer to a stunt, for example, as a gag. Across the c...

Bought by KTXK, WYAP, WCMU, and KNVC Carson City Community Radio


  • Added: Apr 22, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
Piece image
Hundreds of years ago, the word girl didn't necessarily mean a female child. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the term "girl" could refer to a child...

Bought by KTXK, WRIR, WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, and WCMU


  • Added: Apr 15, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Piece image
This week on "A Way with Words”: The language we use to cover up our age, and covering up a secret message. Do you ever find yourself less-than-spe...

Bought by KTXK, WRIR, WEZU, WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Apr 09, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Piece image
We asked for your thoughts about whether cursive writing should be taught in schools -- and you replied with a resounding "Yes!" Here's why: Cursiv...

Bought by KTXK, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WRIR, WYAP, and WEZU


  • Added: Apr 02, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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Questions from young listeners and conversations about everything from shifting slang to a bizarre cooking technique. Kids ask about how to talk ab...

Bought by WCMU, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, and WEZU


  • Added: Mar 26, 2019
  • Length: 25:59
  • Purchases: 3
Piece image
Choosing language that helps resolve interpersonal conflict. Sometimes a question is really just a veiled form of criticism. Understanding the diff...

Bought by WRIR, WRFA-LP, WEZU, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, and WCMU


  • Added: Mar 26, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5