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 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 seven Peaks Island-to-Portland swims. Irwin is married and has a teenage son.

Ways to Connect

The federal government Wednesday released employment and wage data for the country's largest counties. Cumberland is the only Maine county on that list.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

The John T. Gorman Foundation says Maine should do a better job of helping at-risk teens complete the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

In a report released Tuesday, the foundation recommends creating a “comprehensive, coordinated, flexible and youth-centered continuing of care,” for teens at risk due to poverty, homelessness, or who have already done something to place them in the juvenile justice system.

Unemployment in Maine remained at a 60 year low in April at 2.7 percent, the same rate as March.

State Labor Department official Glenn Mills said those are the two lowest monthly unemployment numbers since 1957.

“It's a very tight labor market and conditions are very good,” Mills commented.

The state’s 2.7 percent rate was well below the national unemployment rate of 3.9 percent in April and below Maine’s jobless rate of 3.3 percent in April, 2017.

The federal government says Maine had one of the top ten gains in "real personal income," in 2016.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis figures, released Thursday, show real personal income rose 2.2 percent that year. It was the fastest rate of real income growth in New England.

What makes these income figures "real" in government-speak is that they take into account both inflation and the relative cost of living between Maine and the rest of the country.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

Eleven candidates are vying for the major party gubernatorial nominations. Four more are running for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District. But those numbers have yet to lead to saturation broadcast advertising.

“Morning Edition” host Irwin Gratz talks with Sam Surprise of Surprise Advertising and Brenda Garrand, a founder of Garrand Mohlenkamp. Both have years of experience in crafting political advertising and devising ad strategies.

For disclosure, Brenda Garrand is a board member of Maine Public.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

An index of real estate development in Maine has hit its all-time high.

The "MEREDA" index says there is more development going on around the state than before the Great Recession. Paul Peck, the President of the Maine Real Estate and Development Association, says the biggest driver has been commercial development, despite the challenges facing brick-and-mortar retailers.

Groups that want to end Maine’s opioid crisis say a new state law will help reduce stigma by tweaking language in existing statutes.

The law removes references to terms like alcohol and drug abuse and replaces them with “substance use disorder.” Rather than saying alcoholic or drug addict, “person with substance use disorder” is used.

Auburn Republican State Sen. and U.S. Senate candidate Eric Brakey sponsored the legislation. He says this was a recommendation proposed by a special legislative task force looking into the state’s opioid crisis.

Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press via AP

It’s been nearly five years since a runaway oil train derailed on a curve in the downtown of Lac Megantic, Quebec, which is not far from the Maine border. Several cars ruptured, their fuel exploding in a fireball that killed 47 people.

Since then, many in the town have wanted the railroad track to go away. Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau granted their wish.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

The Maine Historical Society sent several hundred people on a scavenger hunt across Portland Saturday. What they found were glimpses of historic sites rarely seen and a chance to see them up close.

Alex Brandon / Associated Press

As promised, Maine's two U.S. senators had plenty of questions for Gina Haspel Wednesday morning, as President Trump's nominee to head the CIA appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Haspel was asked about her 33-year career with the agency and about the use of interrogation and torture techniques during that tenure.

President Donald Trump has said he believes torture works, but during questioning from the Committee Wednesday, Haspel says she does not. Still, there was no shortage of questions for the nominee.

Maine's economic output grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2017, which spans from October to December. Economic growth actually cooled from a blistering third quarter, when output surged 6.8 percent, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Affairs.

Still, Maine ranked 21 among the states (and the District of Columbia) in its fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product growth rate.

Courtesy Rachel Slade

The sinking of the containership El Faro two-and-a-half years ago is the subject of a new book by Rachel Slade called "Into The Raging Sea." Slade, who appeared Thursday on Maine Public’s Maine Calling, talks with Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz about why she wrote a book on the catastrophe, which claimed the lives of several Maine residents, including the ship’s captain.

GRATZ: Good morning to you.

SLADE: Good morning, thank you for having me.

All of Maine's metro areas had unemployment rates last month below the national and state averages. The unemployment rate in Bangor was just 3.1 percent in March, in Lewiston Auburn, the figure was 2.8 percent and in Portland-South Portland, the jobless rate was just 2.4 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in all three metro areas, the unemployment rates are lower than the national average, 4.1 percent. Bangor matched the state's 3.1 percent rate; Lewiston-Auburn and Portland-South Portland were lower.

Andrew Catalina / Maine Public/file

Tuesday night, the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine will celebrate its 15th anniversary with an international, fashion show, dinner and music. Fatuma Hussein founded the Lewiston-based organization. She's a force to be reckoned with. Hussein talked with Maine Public Radio’s Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz about the effort to establish the center and why she took on the challenge.

Mark Vogelzang / Maine Public

The voice of longtime Morning Edition newscaster Carl Kasell, who died Tuesday at the age of 84, was a familiar one among NPR and Maine Public fans. In August of 2012, Kasell paid a visit to Maine for a taping at Portland's Merrill Auditorium of the popular radio show, "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me!" We couldn't resist the opportunity to have Kasell come by our Portland studios for an interview. MPBN Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz asked him if he missed doing daily newscasts, which he retired from in 2009.

Pages