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.

Ways to Connect

University of Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings says the school has begun a revival.

For more, listen to the full interview:


PORTLAND, Maine - Gov. Paul LePage's latest remarks have drawn bi-partisan criticism. But whether that will translate into action against the governor is less than likely.

The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge won’t be reopened to vehicle traffic. A gear failed over the weekend, preventing the bridge from lowering into its proper position.

State Transportation Department spokesman Ted Talbot says the fix is just too expensive.

“Extensive repairs, upward of $1 million worth of repairs, would have been needed to get this back operable,” he says. “And, even then, it wouldn’t be necessarily guaranteed to operate smoothly and efficiently, like we need to have it.”

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's metropolitan areas saw declines in unemployment in June.

Joblessness fell below 4 percent in all three of the state's urban areas: down to 3.8 percent in Bangor, 3.5 percent in Lewiston-Auburn, and 3 percent in Portland-South Portland.

All of those figures were not only below last month's numbers, but were also below the unemployment rates for June of 2015.

Maine's average unemployment rate statewide was 3.7 percent, two-tenths of a percent higher than May's rate.

Irwin Gratz / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine - Protecting bees:  That's the thinking behind an ordinance South Portland is considering to ban pesticide use on lawns and gardens in the city.

Today, the group Environment Maine said it has gathered more than 900 signatures in South Portland on petitions urging the federal government to move in that direction.

PORTLAND, Maine - The Maine Office of Tourism has awarded grants of more than $57,000 to seven groups to support tourism marketing projects planned for next year.  

Director Carolann Ouellette says the seven organizations getting the grants  include the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce.

"Looking at growing off-season visitation through off-season promotion, in collaboration with local partners and building on the success of 'Gardens Aglow,' " Ouellette says. "So that's a great example where we look for collaboration, we look at building on successful events."

PORTLAND, Maine - Among the speakers at yesterday's opening day of the Democratic Convention was outgoing Portland state Rep. Diane Russell.

Russell has been pushing a proposal to reduce the influence of so-called superdelegates in the Democratic Party's selection of presidential nominees.

Maine's paper mills have been closing one by one as the demand for paper products declines worldwide. How is this trend affecting Maine's economy and local communities? And what is the outlook for Maine paper industry?

Guests: Donna Cassese, Managing Director, Wood Resource Strategy, Sappi North America
  Dana Doran, Executive Director, Professional Logging Contractors of Maine

PORTLAND, Maine - The U.S. House has passed legislation that could help Maine's urchin dealers. The bill would exempt urchin imports and exports from mandatory inspections by federal wildlife officials.

From the Juno spacecraft mission to Jupiter, to the second discovery of gravitational waves, to the completion of the largest telescope on earth, we explore the latest from news from inside our galaxy and beyond.

Guests:  Edward Gleason, Astronomer and Manager of the Southworth Planetarium at USM

  Elizabeth McGrath, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Colby College

  Shawn Laatsch, Director, Emera Astronomy Center & Jordan Planetarium, University of Maine


Irwin Gratz / MPBN

The state transportation department is getting ready to paint four sets of bridges along Interstate 295 in Portland.

Program manager Wayne Frankhauser Jr. says the work is necessary to enable the bridges to serve for up to 75 years.

“If we did not paint and allow the steel to continue to rust, it would greatly shorten the life of the bridges,” he says.

The work will be done at night to minimize traffic disruption. But Frankhauser says the blasting needed to strip the older, lead-based paint will be quite loud.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine storyteller John McDonald is out with a new book that is described as "half-truths, stretched truths, and wry observations about life in Maine."  It's called Moose Memoirs and Lobster Tales. McDonald talked about the book with Irwin Gratz in our Portland studios last week.


Devastation left behind from the "Great Portland Fire" of 1866.
Arcadia Publishing

One-hundred-fifty years ago today, Portland suffered its third, and arguably worst, great fire. The Maine Sunday Telegram recently confirmed that the fire killed four people, but it left 10,000 citizens homeless and cut a swath across the center of the Portland peninsula, leaving behind little more than charred rubble. To commemorate the anniversary of the 1866 fire, we reached back five years into our archives, when Irwin Gratz visited the Portland Fire Museum, a collection of firefighting artifacts housed in an old fire station just steps from downtown Portland, and filed this report.

PORTLAND, Maine - Unemployment in Maine's three urban areas was lower in May than it was a year ago.  

Statistics out today from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Greater Portland's jobless rate was 2.8 percent, down just under a percentage point from a year ago.

Lewiston-Auburn was at 3.4 percent last month, also down just under a percentage point compared with the same time last year.

In Bangor, the unemployment rate was 3.6 percent, a little over half a percent lower than last May.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine Medical Center will be coordinating a new effort to prevent and detect lung cancer. The effort is being funded, in large part, by a $5 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.