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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177 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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Ever wonder what medieval England looked and sounded like? In Old English, the word hord meant "treasure" and your wordhord was the treasure of wor...

Bought by KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], WCMU Michigan, RadioStPete Florida, WUOT 91.9 FM, KMXT and more

  • Added: May 23, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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Don't move my cheese! It's a phrase middle managers use to talk about adapting to change in the workplace. It comes from a popular 1990s business b...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX, WYAP, WSLR, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio) and more

  • Added: May 16, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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If you speak a second or third language, you may remember the first time you dreamed in that new tongue. But does this milestone mean you're actual...

Bought by KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], RADIOLEX, WYAP, WSLR, WNIN and more

  • Added: May 09, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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Do you refer to your dog or cat as "somebody"? As in: When you love somebody that much, you don't mind if they slobber. In other words, is your pet...

Bought by KNCT FM, KTSW 89.9, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], WYAP, RADIOLEX and more

  • Added: May 02, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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The word filibuster has a long and colorful history, going back to the days when pirates roamed the high seas. Today it refers to hijacking a piece...

Bought by KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio) and more

  • Added: Apr 25, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Sure, there's winter, spring, summer, and fall. But the seasons in between have even more poetic names. In Alaska, greenup describes a sudden, dram...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, WSLR, RADIOLEX, WNIN, WPCA-LP and more

  • Added: Apr 18, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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Understanding the varieties of conversational styles can mean the difference between feeling you're understood and being insulted. "High involvemen...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WSLR, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), RADIOLEX and more

  • Added: Apr 11, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Centuries ago, monks who took a vow of silence still had to communicate about routine matters, from gardening to equipment repair. So they develope...

Bought by KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, RADIOLEX, WSLR and more

  • Added: Apr 04, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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An anadrome is a word that forms a whole new word when you spell it backwards. For example, the word "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts." So...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WSLR, RADIOLEX, KTXK and more

  • Added: Mar 28, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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Eels, orts, and Wordle! Sweden awarded its most prestigious literary award to a book about . . . eels. The Book of Eels reveals the mysterious lif...

Bought by KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX, WYAP, WSLR and more

  • Added: Mar 21, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17