Episode 40

"A Visit from Grammar Girl"

Duration 00:15:52      Recorded on January 28, 2008

In this show, Susan and Dan are joined by "Grammar Girl" for a look behind the scenes of her award-winning educational podcast. Hosted by Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl not only provides "quick and dirty tips for better writing", it also serves as a great example of engaging and portable learning.

Show Notes:

In this episode, Susan and Dan meet Mignon Fogarty, host of Grammar Girl, and talk with her about her award-winning and very popular podcast. Mignon is going to be one of the keynote speakers for the Illinois Online Conference in February, and this conference is produced in part by LearningTimes. Therefore, Jonathan Finkelstein, executive producer of LearningTimes, also joins the group.

Mignon begins to explain how she started podcasting as a science writer. Combining her love of interviewing and writing with her curiosity about podcasting and new audio technology, Mignon found podcasting was a mechanism by which she could write what she wanted and publish without editors and time-consuming review. Her first podcast was called Absolute Science, and she produced this for about six months.

Looking for another show to produce, one that would be shorter and less time-consuming, Mignon fell on the idea of grammar as she was editing documents. It is ironic that Grammar Girl has become more than a full-time job for Mignon. Jonathan reminds us that Grammar Girl is one of several podcasts in the 'Quick and Dirty Tips' series produced by Mignon.

Within a month or two, Grammar Girl was one of the highest rated podcast in iTunes. Mignon recognized this as an opportunity to launch a bigger business by adding other topics. Self-described as a tech junkie, Mignon decided that learning audio technology was more interesting than just blogging her message.

Dan asks about the research. Mignon learned very quickly that given the demographics of her listeners and the number of listeners, she needed to be sure she referenced her work and provided resources and footnotes. She does her own research.

Dan wants to learn where the idiomatic expression 'off the cuff' comes from.

Mignon gets her show ideas from listeners and e-mail. She also loves to use current events as a springboard for new topics.

Here is what Mignon knows about her listeners. Nearly 70% come from the US, there is an even mix of male and female listeners, and the majority are between the ages of 25 and 50. She was surprised that her listeners were not younger, students who might be assigned to listen to her work as part of class. And as you might imagine, her listeners are well educated.

Mignon then explains how she became a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show. She has also been the web pick of the day on the Wall Street Journal.

Jonathan points out how powerful the Grammar Girl podcasts have been in helping faculty see that you can take a subject that people might steer away from and make it fun. She also makes it look easy!

Again, Mignon will be one of the keynote speakers for the Illinois Online Conference in February. If you are interested in learning more about the conference, visit http://www.ilonlineconf.org.

Susan and Dan encourage their listeners to switch over to the Grammar Girl for the week and post their grammar questions to Mignon at http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/

About Us

The LT Green Room is a podcast for Renewal, Retooling and Conversations about Learning. It is co-hosted by Susan Manning and Dan Balzer and its show topics are often drawn from members of LearningTimes.org, a free online community of education and training professionals from across the globe. The LT Green Room gives listeners (and ourselves) an opportunity to reflect on what they're doing behind the scene that results in an effective learning experience.


Co-Host & Producer
Susan Manning
Co-Host & Producer
Dan Balzer
Executive Producer
Carl Heine
Special Inspiration