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

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.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday against two Maine men who were caught with guns in violation of a federal statute.

Both Stephen Voisine of Wytopitlock and William Armstrong III of New Vineyard had misdemeanor domestic assault convictions.

PORTLAND, Maine - The personal income of Maine residents grew 1.4 percent in the first quarter of this year.

The increase was the second-highest in the U.S., and above the national average for personal income growth of 1.1 percent in the first quarter.

Three elements go into the personal income figures: wages people earn, interest and dividends, and benefits received from government, called transfer receipts.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's unemployment rate rose a tenth of a percent in May. The state's jobless rate last month was 3.5 percent, up slightly from April's 3.4 percent.

But the unemployment rate is still down about a percentage point from where it was a year ago.

A usual, the job market was even tighter in greater Portland, where the unemployment rate was just 2.8 percent. Lewiston-Augurn was at 3.4 percent, the Bangor Metro area has a 3.6 percent unemployment rate.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's economy grew sluggishly in the fourth quarter of 2015. Statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis - or BEA - show the state's Gross Domestic Product grew at a 1.3 percent annual rate during the last three months of the year.

That figure lagged the overall U.S. growth rate of 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter, and was below the New England average growth rate of 2.1 percent.

PORTLAND, Maine - There is a primary election in Maine Tuesday - not a presidential primary, just the usual every-other-year primary featuring races for Congress and the state Legislature, along with some local issues.  MPBN's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz talks with University of Maine at Farmington Political Science Professor James Melcher about the statewide ballot.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine U.S. Sen. Angus King is co-sponsoring a bill that would seek a way to prevent the kind of cyber attack that blacked out part of Ukraine last December. King described the incident in a speech on the Senate floor.

"The operator in one of the Ukranian power plants noticed, to his horror, that he no longer controlled the cursor on his computer screen," King said. "The cursor moved of its own accord and starting opening dialog boxes and opening breakers."

Irwin Gratz / MPBN

Kendall Morse has written a new book of Maine humor called “Father Fell Down the Well.” He has been storytelling in Maine since the early 1970s.

It’s been more challenging over the last 15 years, since cancer robbed him of his vocal cords.

Still, Irwin Gratz sat down recently with Morse in our Portland studio. Here’s a transcript of their talk: