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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216 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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One of the most powerful words you'll ever hear -- and one of the most poignant -- isn't in dictionaries yet. But it probably will be one day. The ...

Bought by WUOT 91.9 FM, KVSC, Tri States Public Radio, RadioStPete Florida, WRFA-LP and more

  • Added: Jun 10, 2024
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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You may have a favorite word in English, but what about your favorite in another language? The Spanish term ojala is especially handy for expressin...

Bought by RADIOLEX, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WPCA-LP, WNIN, RadioStPete Florida and more

  • Added: Jun 03, 2024
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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Ribbon fall. Gallery forest. You won't find terms like these in most dictionaries, but they and hundreds like them are discussed by famous writers ...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA, KTXK, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WNIN and more

  • Added: May 27, 2024
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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Is there something inherent in English that makes it the linguistic equivalent of the Borg, dominating and consuming other languages in its path? N...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KECG, and RadioFreePalmer

  • Added: May 20, 2024
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 3
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Books were rare treasures in the Middle Ages, painstakingly copied out by hand. So how to protect them from theft? Scribes sometimes added a curse ...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WPCA-LP, KTXK and more

  • Added: May 13, 2024
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Images of birds flutter inside lots of English words and phrases, from "nest egg" and "pecking order," to proverbs from around the world--including...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, KTXK, WPCA-LP, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WNIN and more

  • Added: May 06, 2024
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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The new Downton Abbey movie is a luscious treat for fans of the public-television period piece, but how accurate is the script when it comes to the...

Bought by WPCA-LP, WNIN, KTXK, KTSW 89.9, RadioStPete Florida and more

  • Added: Apr 29, 2024
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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So you've long dreamed of writing fiction, but don't know where to begin? There are lots of ways to get started -- creative writing classes, local ...

Bought by KTXK, KVSC, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WNIN, WPCA-LP and more

  • Added: Apr 22, 2024
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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When an international team of scientists traveled to a research station in Antarctica for six months, the language they all shared was English. Aft...

Bought by KTXK, WPCA-LP, WHCP-LP Cambridge, KPRG, WNIN and more

  • Added: Apr 15, 2024
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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Unwrap the name of a candy bar, and you just might find a story inside. For instance, one chewy treat found in many a checkout lane is named after ...

Bought by KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WPCA-LP, WNIN and more

  • Added: Apr 08, 2024
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15