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

Maine Holocaust survivor Kurt Messerschmidt has died at the age of 102.

Messerschmidt was born near Berlin on Jan. 2, 1915, and chose to remain in Germany, where he witnessed the rise of fascism. He described his ordeal to Maine Public Television in a 1993 documentary.


University of New England

Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell of Maine told an audience at the University of New England last night that technology has driven partisan gerrymandering to a new, dangerous level and decried recent Supreme Court rulings that encouraged big money to flow into politics, while making it harder to trace the sources of such big spending.

Mitchell appeared on Morning Edition live from Maine Public Radio’s Portland studios.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Fifty years ago the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was nearing its peak. Some 485,000 American troops were in South Vietnam. U.S. involvement in the war would go on for another six years.

In less than two weeks, Maine Public Television will begin airing Ken Burns’ documentary about the Vietnam War. But beginning Tuesday, on Maine Public Radio, we’re going to air a series of what we’re calling “Courageous Conversations” about the Vietnam War and its impact.

Courtesy of CashStar

A company based in Portland that provides software platforms to retailers who want to sell, market and distribute gift cards has been acquired by a California-based financial technology company that operates in 26 countries.

CashStar has been purchased by Blackhawk Network for $175 million. Cash Star head Ben Kaplan says being acquired by Blackhawk will make it easier for CashStar to build an international business.

Labor markets remained strong in all three of Maine’s major urban areas in July.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found unemployment low and edging lower in Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn and the Portland-South Portland labor markets.

The Portland-area jobless figure was the lowest: 2.8 percent. Lewiston-Auburn, at 3.4 percent, was still a bit lower than the state’s unemployment rate last month. Bangor was a bit higher than the state figure, at 3.7 percent.

State police say it’ll be several days before they offer an accounting of how a 5-year-old girl was shot and killed in Scarborough Monday night.

Spokesman Stephen McCausland says the victim, Elise Dorr of Belfast, was staying at her grandparents’ home, along with two older siblings and her parents.

The Piscataqua River Bridge will be rehabilitated in a project that will take two, maybe three, years to complete.  

The bridge carries I-95 between Kittery and Portsmouth.  Maine Transportation Department spokesman Ted Talbot says high traffic volumes have taken their toll.

"Upwards of 65 percent of our gross domestic product travels over that bridge," Talbot says. "So, for the state of Maine, it's very critical."

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

Madras, Oregon, is a little town having a big moment in the sun, (or the shadowed  sun, to be exact). 

Madras has one-tenth the population of Portland, Maine, and was expecting, maybe, 100,000 people for Monday's eclipse. 

Madras is surrounded by ranch lands, some of which  have become pop-up campgrounds.  There has been a big music festival through the weekend.  A bowling alley in Madras advertised it would be open for pins and pizza 24 hours a day. 

A showdown is looming today between Gov. Paul LePage and the Maine Legislature over the future of solar electric power.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

You could say Ryan Lizza is the man who got Anthony Scaramucci fired.  Lizza was the reporter for the New Yorker who Scaramucci called, swearing about other members of the Trump hierarchy, a conversation that went public. 

While it may have forced Chief of Staff Reince Priebus out, it also led to the hiring of John Kelly, who yesterday demanded Scaramucci's resignation.

Lizza spoke at College of the Atlantic last night about - among other things - the aftermath of that call.

Maine’s economy stood still in the first quarter of this year.

Figures released Wednesday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis showed the state’s gross domestic product had a growth rate of zero from January through March, placing Maine 43rd among the states.

New Hampshire grew, but only at an .8 percent rate, 34th best in the country. Nationally, the GDP grew just 1.2 percent in the first quarter. And there were four states, all in the Plains, whose economic output shrank in the first three months of the year.

Construction workers and prospective construction workers will have a new education option this fall. Southern Maine Community College President Ron Cantor said it will be called the Construction Institute.

“Where a student can take a course or two or three, short term, maybe not a full semester course, maybe not even for credit. But, we said to the industry, ‘What are the skills you really need?’ They said things like print reading and framing methods, and construction safety. Well, put those three together, short-term workshops, and they can go get a job,” he said.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

The University of Maine System's effort to establish a new graduate program took a big step forward Tuesday. The Harold Alfond Foundation has awarded the Maine Center for Graduate and Professional Studies a $7.5 million challenge grant.

That money will help the center expand its course offerings.  The idea is to create graduate degree programs that cross the lines between law, business and public policy courses.

Alfond Foundation Chairman Gregory Powell said the effort represented the kind of teamwork Harold Alfond he learned through sports.

The LePage administration's attempt to streamline secondary school education has taken a step forward.  

The Education Department has picked three proposals from seven as finalists for possible funding of an education facility that will combine high schools, career technical education and local business.

FILE - In this June 5, 2017, file photo, Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of The Trump Organization, announces that the family's company is launching a new hotel chain with his brother Eric Trump.
AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File

Maine Independent Senator Angus King told CNN today he doesn’t know if the latest revelation about Donald Trump Junior’s meeting last year with a Russian attorney means any crimes were committed. He says a question that remains is what happened in the meeting and after.