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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221 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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Martha and Grant have book recommendations, including a collection of short stories inspired by dictionaries, and a techno-thriller for teens. Or, ...

Bought by WYAP, RADIOLEX, KTSW 89.9, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WHCP-LP Cambridge and more

  • Added: Jun 05, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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The art of the invitation can be tricky. If you want someone to join your group on an outing, it's important to state it clearly. Otherwise, the in...

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

  • Added: May 29, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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The game of baseball has always inspired colorful commentary. Sometimes that means using familiar words in unfamiliar ways. The word "stuff," for e...

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

  • Added: May 22, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Barbara Kingsolver's book Demon Copperhead is a retelling of Charles Dickens' David Copperfield set in today's Appalachia. Martha shares memories o...

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

  • Added: May 15, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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How colors got their names, and a strange way to write. The terms "blue" and "orange" arrived in English via French, so why didn't we also adapt th...

Bought by RADIOLEX, KECG, WYAP, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WNIN and more

  • Added: May 08, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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What do you call a long sandwich filled with lots of ingredients? Whether you call it a sub, a hoagie, a grinder, or something else entirely depend...

Bought by RadioFreePalmer

  • Added: May 01, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 1
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Vocabulary that trickles down from the top of the world. Malamute, kayak, and parka are just some of the words that have found their way into Engli...

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

  • Added: Apr 24, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Funny cat videos and cute online photos inspire equally adorable slang terms we use to talk about them. When a cat leaves its tongue out, that's a ...

Bought by KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KECG, WYAP, KTXK, RADIOLEX and more

  • Added: Apr 16, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Is there such a thing as a "neutral" accent, and if so what does it sound like? And that quirk in the way Southern Californians talk about freeways...

Bought by KECG, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), RADIOLEX, WYAP, WHCP-LP Cambridge and more

  • Added: Apr 10, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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It's cats and dogs, and a few other critters, too. Animals prowl around inside several English words, including sleuth, which was originally sleuth...

Bought by Red River Radio Network (E. Texas/Louisiana/Arkansas/Mississippi), KTXK, KVSC, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], WYAP and more

  • Added: Apr 04, 2023
  • Length: 30:50
  • Purchases: 8