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.

Series

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217 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.


Pieces

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If you catch your blue jeans on a nail, you may find yourself with a winklehawk. This term was adapted into English from Dutch, and means "an L-sha...

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


  • Added: Sep 11, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Surf's up! When surfers describe the waves as going gangbusters, it's a great time to be out on the water. But why describe surf conditions that wa...

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


  • Added: Sep 04, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Sending someone a care package shows you care, of course. But the first care packages were boxes of food and personal items for survivors of World ...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, WYAP, RADIOLEX, WGCU, WNIN and more


  • Added: Aug 28, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 19
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Perfect sentences and slang that tickles your mind. A new book of writing advice says that a good sentence "imposes a logic on the world's weirdnes...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WNIN, WPCA-LP, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio) and more


  • Added: Aug 20, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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Is listening to an audio-book for your book club somehow "cheating"? While some argue there's no substitute for engaging with the printed page, oth...

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


  • Added: Aug 14, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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In 1803, a shy British pharmacist wrote a pamphlet that made him a reluctant celebrity. The reason? He proposed a revolutionary new system for clas...

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


  • Added: Aug 07, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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A remarkable new documentary explores the world of amateur and professional mermaiding and the language bubbling up within it. Some mermaiding enth...

Bought by KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], WPCA-LP, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WNIN and more


  • Added: Jul 31, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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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 ...

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


  • Added: Jul 24, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Kinbank is a new database that illustrates the global diversity of family terms. English, for example, specifies sibling relationships with just on...

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


  • Added: Jul 17, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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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 KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], RADIOLEX, WYAP, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio) and more


  • Added: Jul 10, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18