'Writers on Writing' host knows of what she speaks

Checking In With...Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

May 01, 2014|By Michael Miller
  • Barbara DeMarco-Barrett is a public affairs host for the weekly radio show, "Writers on Writing." The show is broadcast from the studios of KUCI-FM on the campus of UC Irvine.
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett is a public affairs host for… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

If you want to strike up a conversation with an author of your choice, the words "Barbara DeMarco-Barrett says hi" may do the trick.

The Newport Beach resident, who oversees the KUCI 88.9 FM program "Writers on Writing," has interviewed so many guests over the past decade and a half that reading the list of participants on her website almost requires a magnifying glass. DeMarco-Barrett is an author herself — among her credits is "Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within" — and her show, which also features co-hosts Marrie Stone and Nicole Nelson, grew largely out of a desire to meet kindred literary spirits.

Like other KUCI team members, DeMarco-Barrett has been busy in recent days promoting the station's spring fund drive. Those who donate between now and May 5 stand to win CDs, T-shirts, books, coupons and other prizes. The donations won't just go toward an Orange County institution: DeMarco-Barrett has heard from "Writers on Writing" podcast listeners abroad. (The station's website,, has basic information about the pledge drive.)


Last week, DeMarco-Barrett spoke to the Daily Pilot about her history as a radio host — and what she's learned about writers and writing along the way. The following are excerpts from the conversation:


There's that old saying that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Do you think it's ever hard to talk about writing too?



No, because we just have on people we want to talk to — you know, authors or agents or poets we want to talk to. So, you know, we don't get paid to do this, so we get to choose. So for that reason, I think it's easy. If we were assigned notable authors that we had to talk to, that would be hard.

I mean, I've been sent bestselling books that ... it's like, I don't even read this author. I mean, why would I? I'm not getting paid. So the show began originally because I wanted, really, my own personal MFA program. ... There weren't any book shows, writer shows, back then that I really liked or could find.

And plus, I was getting my own writing going, and an editor in a marketing department where I was originally trying to sell "Pen on Fire" said, "You know, the book's great, everything's great, but who is she?" Meaning, I needed a platform. So I was like, "A platform? What would I enjoy doing in public?"

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