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

We're now less than a week away from Election Day.  There are four items on Maine's statewide ballot.  Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz talks about three of them with University of Maine at Farmington Political Science Professor Jim Melcher.

GRATZ: Statewide, folks are going to face four questions: The first one is another casino vote. Now, the opposition this time is less focused on gambling per se than on who would get to develop this casino.

Maine's governor and the Legislature - actually legislatures - have battled for years over expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Next week Maine voters can get into the act. Referendum Question 2 would approve the Medicaid expansion. Maine Public’s State House Bureau Chief Steve Mistler has written a story for Maine about the history of Medicaid expansion and talks about it with Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz.

Maine Public/file

Thursday, Portland-based ad experts Sam Surprise and Brenda Garrand spent some time assessing the quality of ads supporting Questions 1 and 2 on next month's statewide ballot.  If approved, Question 1 would authorize a casino for York County, and Question 2 would allow Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  Two days ago, ads opposing the Casino measure finally took to the airwaves.  Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz reconnected with Surprise, of Surprise Advertising, and Garrand, of Garrand Partners, who joined from Houston.


Maine Public/file

It's not a big election year, and so not a big year for political advertising.  But ad experts Sam Surprise and Brenda Garrand have had a look at some of it and give Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz their assessments.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

The Maine Legislature convenes today for a special session. Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz talks with political correspondent Mal Leary about the origin of the session and what items lawmakers will consider.

Maine’s unemployment rate edged down a tenth of a percent in September.

Maine’s jobless rate has now been at or under 4 percent for two straight years. That’s is the second longest such stretch in 40 years, according to the state labor department.

The September jobless figure was lower than the New England unemployment rate of 3.9 percent and the national jobless rate, which was 4.2 percent in September.

The department says there are 1,500 fewer Mainers unemployed now than a year ago.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

Maine Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is taking to the airwaves to criticize President Trump on a variety of issues, from health care to presidential decorum.

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Monday, Collins took issue with Trump's "Twitter war" with Sen. Bob Corker, saying it isn't "productive."

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

Civility in public debate seems to be lacking these days. But that very lack of civility is prompting some groups to begin to actively promote it.  Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer is executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.  She was in Portland to launch an initiative that seeks to engage 100,000 people in four states on the importance of more civil discourse.  She spoke with Maine Public Radio's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz, who asked Dr. Lukensmeyer to start by defining civility.







Gary Knight / NPR

This Sunday, Maine Public Radio debuts “Hidden Brain” with Shankar Vedantum.   Shanker has been exploring the social sciences in segments for NPR’s Morning Edition program, along with a “Hidden Brain” podcast.   He talked with Maine Public Radio’s Irwin Gratz about his new show, which will run for one hour, and air Sunday mornings at 11 on Maine Public Radio.

GRATZ: Good morning sir.


GRATZ: Tell us first how you came to this exploration of human behavior you've been on.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage told reporters Thursday morning that Anthem's decision to drop out of Maine's ACA marketplace next year has nothing to do with anything President Trump has done. Instead, LePage blamed the Affordable Care Act itself.

"They are dying in the individual market - they can't make money," LePage said Thursday, at a conference in Falmouth on natural gas.

The growth in Maine residents' personal income slowed in the second quarter. 

That's according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  The federal agency's latest numbers show that Mainers' personal income rose six-tenths of a percent, slower than the 1.6 percent growth seen in the first quarter of the year.

The slight increase for Maine was almost exactly in line with the national growth rate - seven-tenths of a percent.

Most of the second quarter's increase came from Mainer's wages, or dividend and interest payments.  

New figures are out on the economic health of Maine's three urban areas, based on the change last year in the gross domestic product. 

The Bureau of Economic Analysis figures show that Bangor's output grew by 1.4 percent, Portland-South Portland by 1.6 percent, and Lewiston-Auburn by 1.8 percent. 

That was a big turnaround for Lewiston-Auburn, which actually saw its economic output shrink in 2015. 

But the latest numbers reflect a slowing of economic output growth in greater Portland, which posted a 2.4 percent increase in the GDP in 2015.

Portland councilors are likely tonight to approve tonight renaming the city’s observance of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Councilor Pious Ali, the sponsor of the measure, says it recognizes that the American story would not be complete without an acknowledgment of its pre-European history.

“This land was nurtured, and had been inhabited, by the indigenous people long before we were here,” he says.

Bangor and Orono have recently taken similar steps, as have other communities around the country.

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.