Irwin Gratz

Morning Edition Producer

Irwin was born and reared in New York City and, while he never hiked miles to school, he did walk up six flights of stairs every day to the apartment his family lived in until he was nearly 19. Irwin remains a lover of subway rides, egg creams, and the New York Mets.

He moved to Maine in 1978 and worked a dozen years in commercial radio in Sanford, then Portland, before beginning to freelance for Maine Public Radio in 1990. He has been the local anchor of Morning Edition since September 1992.

Irwin served as chairman of the Maine Association of Broadcasters in 2015. From September 2004 to October 2005, Irwin served as national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization. He holds a master’s in journalism from New York University. Irwin won a Yankee Quill Award in 2011 for from the New England Newspaper and Press Association for his “broad influence for good, both inside and outside the newsroom.”

Irwin also has an interest in astronomy, which he indulges to this day as an occasional show presenter at the Southworth Planetarium in Portland. And he swims, a lot. Irwin has completed 7 Peaks Island-to-Portland swims. Irwin is married and has a teenage son.

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PORTLAND, Maine - South Portland and Scarborough will conduct pilot projects soon in collecting food waste for composting. 

South Portland's pilot will begin in May.  Travis Wagner, an Environmental Policy Professor at the University of Southern Maine, will be evaluating the program, "trying to figure out the percentage of people that participate on a weekly basis, and then trying to measure the amount of food waste that's actually collected."

Wagner also says he'll try to talk with participants to find out if there were any "barriers" to their participation.   

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram launch a series this Sunday that attempts to put a human face on the opioid crisis.  Maybe too many faces, says Dieter Bradbury, the publication's deputy managing editor for news.  Bradbury spoke about the series with Maine Public Radio's Morning Edition host, Irwin Gratz.

Courtesy Suzanne Massie

PORTLAND, Maine - The phrase "trust, but verify," springs from Russian, a language Suzanne Massie, of Blue Hill, knows well.  She has been a frequent visitor to the country, written books about its culture and, in the 1980's, became a bridge between the superpowers.

Massie has just returned from her latest trip to Russia, and speaks about it with Maine Public Radio’s Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine entrepreneur David Stone is hoping new computer software will help the movement toward an old value:  locally-produced food.     

"I believe that we're seeing a resurgence, a rebirth of the small, independent grocer, butcher and farmer,” Stone says.  “And I, also - looking at the trend data - see that millennials, like several of the people that work with me, this is what they want:  to buy closer to the source."

PORTLAND, Maine - The Maine State Archives and Library would like to make its trove of documents available for internet searching. But there's a problem:  Much of the oldest material in its collection is hand-written - letters, diaries, even flyers. In order to make that searchable, someone has to transcribe that content word by word. And, as Irwin Gratz reports, that someone could be you.

PORTLAND, Maine - Unemployment went down in Maine in January.  From 3.8 percent in December, to 3.5 percent in the first month of the new year.

State Labor Department official Glenn Mills says several areas led a gain in job creation.

"Over the year, the strongest job gains were in the health care, hospitality and construction sectors," Mill says. "Manufacturing was relatively flat, which was a good performance given the large loss of paper mill jobs that occurred during the year."


PORTLAND, Maine - The annual Governor's Conference on Tourism opens Tuesday in Augusta. Steve Lyons, the state's acting director of tourism and film, says tourism is a part of the Maine economy that continues to grow, and change.

PORTLAND, Maine - The danger of major river flooding this spring is low.  That's the conclusion today of the Maine River Flow Advisory Commission, which met Thursday.  

Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Bruce Fitzgerald co-chairs the group. "The main rivers, the Kennebec and the Penobscot River, seem to be ice-free and we've got a couple of small ice jams in localized areas," he says, "but I think we're looking pretty good there."

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is chairing a Senate hearing today on how the country should deal with its deteriorated infrastructure. 

Joining her at the Washington hearing is Maine Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt, who's heading a national association of transportation officials.

Bernhardt spoke of the importance assured federal funding.

Paul Cyr / Courtesy Can Am Crown International Sled Dog Race

When the 2017 Can Am Crown Sled Dog Race gets underway Saturday in Fort Kent, Amy Dionne of Madawaska will be out there with her dogs. "This year we're kind of taking a step back from being competitive and just kind of doing the races to have fun," she says - assuming that riding a dog sled over 250 miles of frigid, northern Maine wilderness is your idea of fun.

Maine's unemployment rate fell last year, to 3.9 percent from 4.4 percent in 2015.   

That's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found that the percentage of Mainers in the workforce climbed from just below 60 percent to just above.

The state's jobless rate for last year was a full percentage point below the national rate and the New England average.

Maine was one of 27 states where unemployment fell last year.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine voters last fall approved an initiative to add a 3 percent tax surcharge to incomes of $200,000 or more.  It would increase funding for schools, by an estimated $157 million.

PORTLAND, Maine - Sappi paper has announced a $165 million investment in its Somerset Mill in Skowhegan.  

Sappi President Steve Binnie told analysts on a conference call that the company is continuing to grow the parts of the paper business that are profitable.

Collections of Maine Historical Society/ Maine Today Media

"The world must be made safe for democracy."  With those words, President Woodrow Wilson committed Maine, and the rest of the country, to fight in World War I.  It was April 2, 1917.   To mark the coming centennial, the Maine Historical Society opens a new exhibit in Portland today.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is joining 16 of her counterparts in a court filing to defend the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.   

The 17 attorneys general, all Democrats, want to protect Director Richard Cordray from being fired by President Trump.  

The attorneys general said in a court filing Monday they have "a vital interest in defending an independent and effective" Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.