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

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.

FILE: Senate Armed Services Senate Committee member Sen. Angus King, I-Maine questions Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Maine Independent Senator Angus King says he thinks Republicans are moving too quickly toward a vote on a health care proposal. Speaking with CNN Wednesday, King said that Senate Republicans have developed another health care plan in secret, one whose content is not known by many Republicans he knows.

“It’s going to come out maybe tomorrow,” King says. “There’ll be a congressional budget office analysis on Monday, maybe, and then their talking about a vote next. I mean why not slow down and do it in the normal course of business?”

Maine’s Senators are to see the latest version of a Republican health care bill Thursday. They’re also due to get a visit from Will and Alicia Ethridge and their three-year-old son Wesley. The Ethridges, from York, plan to urge Senators Collins and King to preserve medicaid.

Will Ethridge says it has helped Wesley on a long-and-difficult medical journey that began days after he was born.

FILE - Amtrak's Downeaster train, headed for Portland, Maine from Boston, pulls out of the station in Haverhill, Mass., Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa - File

Downeaster passenger trains carried more than 511,000 passengers in the year ending June 30.  That makes for the highest 12-month ridership figures since 2014.   

Maine Passenger Rail Authority chief Patricia Quinn says ridership on the Amtrak service was up nearly 9 percent from the year before, despite track work last fall that caused some trains to be canceled.

"We still - even though we had a lot of service interruptions - still saw ridership exceed our best ever in six of the 12 months of last year," Quinn says. "So we're really excited about that."