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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. 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. 

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.

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, 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.

Pieces

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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 WYAP and WEZU


  • Added: Sep 21, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 2
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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 KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], KTSW 89.9, KREV-LP, WYAP, and WEZU


  • Added: Sep 14, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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Choosing language that helps resolve interpersonal conflict. Sometimes a question is really just a veiled form of criticism. Understanding the diff...

Bought by KREV-LP, WSLR, WYAP, and WEZU


  • Added: Sep 07, 2017
  • Length: 01:47:30
  • Purchases: 4
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A wingnut is a handy, stabilizing piece of hardware. So why is it a pejorative term for those of a certain political persuasion? Also, is there som...

Bought by KREV-LP, WSLR, WETD, WYAP, and WEZU


  • Added: Aug 30, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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Our youngest listeners have questions about everything from love to one of their favorite foods. Kids ask why we might end a text with the letters ...

Bought by KTSW 89.9 and WEZU


  • Added: Aug 30, 2017
  • Length: 29:45
  • Purchases: 2
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The words we choose can change attitudes--and change lives. A swing-dance instructor has switched to gender-neutral language when teaching couples....

Bought by KREV-LP, WSLR, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WEZU and more


  • Added: Aug 24, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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This week on "A Way with Words": Grant and Martha discuss the L-word--or two L-words, actually: liberal and libertarian. They reflect different pol...

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


  • Added: Aug 17, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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Echoes of the Greatest Generation, and a tasty bite of history. The language and melodies of military marching songs can connect grown children wit...

Bought by WETD, KREV-LP, WSLR, KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: Aug 10, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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Say you have an acquaintance you always see at the dog park or the playground. But one night, you run into them at the movies, and for a moment, it...

Bought by KREV-LP, WSLR, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WEZU and more


  • Added: Aug 02, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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Clean cursing for modern times, more about communicating after a brain injury, and 1970's TV lingo with roots in the Second World War. A young woma...

Bought by KREV-LP, WMUU-LP, WETD, KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: Jul 27, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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Gerrymandering is the practice of redistricting to tip the political scales. Originally, though, this strategy was called "GARY-mandering" with a h...

Bought by WSLR, WMUU-LP, WETD, WHRV, WYAP and more


  • Added: Jul 20, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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The only time you'll ever see the sun's outer atmosphere is during a full solar eclipse, when sun itself is completely covered. That hazy ring is c...

Bought by WSLR, WETD, WMUU-LP, KTSW 89.9, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio] and more


  • Added: Jul 13, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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This week it’s butterflies, belly flowers, plot bunnies, foxes, and cuckoos. Also, writing advice from Mark Twain and a wonderful bit of prose from...

Bought by KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], WSLR, WETD, KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: Jul 06, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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Novelist Charles Dickens created many unforgettable characters, but he's also responsible for coining or popularizing lots of words, like "flummox"...

Bought by WSLR, WYAP, WEZU, and WMUU-LP


  • Added: Jun 29, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
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Pranks, cranks, and chips. As a kid, you may have played that game where you phone someone to say, "Is your refrigerator running? Then you better g...

Bought by WSLR, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WEZU, KREV-LP and more


  • Added: Jun 22, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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If you want to be a better writer, try skipping today's bestsellers, and read one from the 1930's instead. Or read something besides fiction in ord...

Bought by WSLR, KREV-LP, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, and WEZU


  • Added: Jun 15, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Piece image
Baseball has a language all its own: On the diamond, a snow cone isn't what you think it is, and Three Blind Mice has nothing to do with nursery rh...

Bought by KREV-LP, WSLR, WETD, KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: Jun 08, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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What's the best way for someone busy to learn lots of new words quickly for a test like the GRE? Looking up their origins can help. Or record yours...

Bought by KREV-LP, WSLR, WMUU-LP, WYAP, WEZU and more


  • Added: Jun 01, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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Why do we call a frankfurter a "hot dog"? It seems an unsettling 19th-century rumor is to blame. Also, if someone quits something abruptly, why do ...

Bought by WSLR, WMUU-LP, WYAP, and WEZU


  • Added: May 26, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
Piece image
A caller with a 25-year-old parrot wonders: How much language do birds really understand? Plus, Knock-knock. Who's there? Boo. Well . . .  you can ...

Bought by WNJR, WSLR, WETD, WYAP, WEZU and more


  • Added: May 18, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6