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 MPBN in 1990. He's been local anchor of Morning Edition since September, 1992.

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 Degree in Journalism from New York University.

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 5 Peaks Island-to-Portland swims. Irwin is married and has a young son.

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PORTLAND, Maine - Unemployment fell in all three of Maine's metropolitan areas last month. Figures out today from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that joblessness in greater Bangor fell from 4.3 percent in February to 4.1 percent in March.   

In Portland and South Portland, the unemployment rate fell from 3.3 percent in February to 3.1 percent last month.  Lewiston-Auburn saw the biggest decline - from 4.1 percent to 3.8 percent.

PORTLAND, Maine - Gov. Paul LePage has responded to yesterday's complaints that he held an illegal, private meeting with a blue-ribbon commission on education.

LePage, appearing on WVOM Radio in Bangor this morning, told hosts Ric Tyler and George Hale that "they made a big s--- show out of it and, as of yesterday afternoon, I have withdrawn the executive branch from that group."

Courtesy of the McKeen family

We learned Thursday that our friend and former colleague Keith McKeen died this week of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He had just turned 73.

During a conference call with reporters Monday, Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association, said the price charged by power producers for their output has fallen 30 percent since 2003, when adjusted for inflation.

It’s Thursday, and time for Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on Maine politics. This week, Cynthia Dill, an attorney with the Portland firm of Troubh Heisler and former Democratic state senator, Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising and Marketing, a former Republican lawmaker, and Dick Woodbury, an economist who served in the Maine Senate as an independent.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine Restaurant workers today highlighted another aspect of the minimum wage increase on this fall's ballot: In addition to raising the minimum to $12 an hour over a period of years, the measure will eliminate the lower wage paid to "tipped employees."

Heather McIntosh has worked in Portland's restaurant industry for 20 years. "We are the human capital," she said at a news conference in Portland. "We are the ones driving profits. We're the faces of the restaurant and we deserve one fair wage."

Irwin Gratz / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine - This year's mild winter made travel easier and kept heating costs down.  So what was not to like about it?

"This had a devastating impact on our beloved winter traditions, including skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing and snowmobiling, among other things that Maine families have enjoyed for generations." says Todd Martin, of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

PORTLAND, Maine - Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority Executive Director Patricia Quinn says another tie replacement project will begin later this year.

But Quinn told Maine legislators this week that the project won't cause nearly as much disruption as a tie replacement project last year. That went on for months, forced late and canceled trains and depressed ridership.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine Gov. Paul LePage has reiterated his support for presidential nominating primaries in Maine.  The governor, appearing on WVOM Radio this morning, addressed the extra cost to the state of moving from caucuses to primary voting.

"It's not a lot of money in relation to making sure that people are involved in their government," LePage said. "And, I tell you, to me that's a price that's worth paying."

FORT KENT, Maine — Some mushers and their dog teams are still out finishing the Can Am Crown 250 in northern Maine. The first team to finish, led by Martin Massicotte of Quebec, crossed the finish line in Fort Kent around 5:45 this morning.

"I think this is his seventh victory here," says Race Marshall Don Hibbs. "He's been a very consistent musher for many, many years and he must work harder than the rest of us, so he deserves everything he gets."

After campaign visits this week by Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Maine Republicans and Democrats caucus over the weekend to express their presidential preference.

University of New England political science professor Brian Duff sat down with MPBN’s Irwin Gratz to talk about what effect the caucuses may have on the presidential race and what they may tell us about the current state of Maine’s electorate.

Courtesy Trudy Irene Scee

PORTLAND, Maine - On Oct. 12, 1937, gangster Al Brady and one other member of his crime gang were gunned down on the streets of Bangor.  They were the last of the depression-era criminal gangs.  Movie theater goers saw newsreel footage of the gang’s end. Brewer writer Trudy Irene Scee has researched the rest of the story for her book, "Public Enemy Number One: The True Story of the Al Brady Gang."  Scee spoke with MPBN’s Irwin Gratz.

Earlier this month, physicists succeeded in directly detecting gravitational waves, 100 years after Albert Einstein predicted them. The discovery made international news. We'll learn about the importance of the discovery and get a primer on Einstein's Theory of Relativity.  We'll also discuss the latest news from around our galaxy - including the mysterious Planet 9.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's three metropolitan areas saw big declines in unemployment last year.

Figures released Feb. 3 by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show that between December 2014 and December 2015, unemployment in the Bangor area fell from 4.9% to 3.7%.

In the Greater Portland/South Portland area, the rate fell from 4% to 2.8%. The biggest decline was recorded in the Lewiston-Auburn area, where unemployment fell from a rate of 4.9% to 3.4%. 

The bureau's figures are not adjusted for seasonal variation.

Irwin Gratz / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine - Most of us like to think we're connected to some group of people who will miss us if we're gone.  Maybe that's why the story of Lucie McNulty seems so disturbing. Lucie was the woman who died in her mobile home in Wells, a fact that wasn't discovered until last month, an estimated two-and-a-half years after she died.