William Safire once called A Way with Words “entertainingly erudite,” which sums up in two words why the show is a sure thing on any public radio station and why station carriage has grown from just 12 stations to hundreds. If you haven’t heard it lately, you’re in for a superb experience — an interesting hour of people from all over having a fun, smart, and contemporary conversations about language.

There’s nothing else like it on radio.

No Carriage Fees

As of this writing, there are no carriage fees or other costs associated with airing A Way with Words over the air or online.

We are able to forgo broadcast fees because like-minded listeners, donors, sponsors, and grant-making organizations who believe in our nonprofit mission cover the amount we would otherwise receive from broadcasters.

See a list of broadcasters who currently carry the program.

How To Get The Show

Send email or call (619) 567-9673 and tell us when you’d like to begin. There are no contracts to sign. To be notified of new episodes, tell us whom to add to the private announcement email list.

Episodes of A Way with Words are made available on Wednesdays:

  • Through PRSS/Content Depot. An account is required but there are no carriage fees charged for the show.
  • Through PRX. An account is required but no points are charged for the show.
  • By download from our web site in WAV, MP3, and MP2 formats, in six-file and two-file versions. A password is required to download the show in broadcast-quality formats from our website. Email or call (619) 567-9673 to get the password.

Why You Should Carry the Program

First, read testimonials from program directors. Then read what listeners and educators like about the show, too. Then consider these points:

  • There are no carriage fees, but it sounds like a big-network show.
  • Includes voices and accents of all ages, regions, races, and backgrounds.
  • It’s true audience-service. Everyday public radio listeners are heard.
  • 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.
  • It’s family-friendly.
  • We’ll do live on-air pitching to help you at pledge time, if schedules allow.
  • We’ll tell podcast listeners 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.

Content and Tone

A Way with Words is like Car Talk meets Antiques Roadshow, where what seems to be esoteric is really about human relationships and stories. This is a show with heart.

What it is: Martha and Grant are the teachers you wish you’d had. The show is upbeat, lively, conversational, fresh, contemporary. It’s a positive, information-based look at what is really happening with all aspects of modern 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.

What it’s not: The show is not a couple of cobwebbed school-marms giving lectures. There’s almost no chiding, tsk-tsking, or finger-wagging. Nor is it simply a recitation of what one could easily find in a Google search. There’s also no ranting about language going to hell in a handbasket or decrying the use of slang by kids today. In fact, what Martha and Grant have to say about the state of the English language may surprise you.

What listeners tune in to hear:

  • the latest language breakthroughs and news
  • new words from current events, pop culture, sports, science, music, and the arts
  • political jargon in the headlines
  • family expressions and linguistic heirlooms — old-fashioned things your grandparents and parents said
  • books, literature, reading, and writing
  • word games and quizzes
  • proverbs, idioms, folklore and catchphrases
  • word histories, slang, and new words
  • language in the classroom, including English as a second language
  • dialects, accents, and vocabulary of regional and ethnic groups
  • speaking, speech, and pronunciation
  • grammar, syntax, and semantics

Times and Clocks

We preproduce our show which means that the show is delivered as files rather than as a live feed.

It may be aired at any time during the week as many times as you like. The show is highly effective between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekends, but 1 p.m. on weekdays turns out a surprisingly robust response, as well. It pairs very well with Car Talk, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and local caller-based current affairs programming. Stations that are following the trend of reducing the number of times a week that they re-air public radio’s big shows will find that A Way with Words will fill any of those spots nicely.

Our broadcast clock looks something like this:

Billboard: 1:00
Segment 1: 13:00
Music Bed: 1:00
Segment 2: 19:00
Music Bed: 1:00
Segment 3: 19:00
TRT: 54:00

Stations typically take NPR news at the top of the hour and start our show at :06 with breaks at :19 and :39 and out at :59.

Here’s a typical episode rundown:
–Seg 1
—-Intro: 2-3 minutes
—-Caller questions: 10-11 minutes
–Break 1:00
–Seg 2
—-Word Challenge 4-6 minutes
—-Caller questions 13-15 minutes
–Break 1:00
–Seg 3
—-Lexbag 3-5 minutes
—-Caller questions 13-15 minutes
—-Credits: 1:00



“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