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

All of Maine's metro areas had unemployment rates last month below the national and state averages. The unemployment rate in Bangor was just 3.1 percent in March, in Lewiston Auburn, the figure was 2.8 percent and in Portland-South Portland, the jobless rate was just 2.4 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in all three metro areas, the unemployment rates are lower than the national average, 4.1 percent. Bangor matched the state's 3.1 percent rate; Lewiston-Auburn and Portland-South Portland were lower.

Andrew Catalina / Maine Public/file

Tuesday night, the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine will celebrate its 15th anniversary with an international, fashion show, dinner and music. Fatuma Hussein founded the Lewiston-based organization. She's a force to be reckoned with. Hussein talked with Maine Public Radio’s Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz about the effort to establish the center and why she took on the challenge.

Mark Vogelzang / Maine Public

The voice of longtime Morning Edition newscaster Carl Kasell, who died Tuesday at the age of 84, was a familiar one among NPR and Maine Public fans. In August of 2012, Kasell paid a visit to Maine for a taping at Portland's Merrill Auditorium of the popular radio show, "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me!" We couldn't resist the opportunity to have Kasell come by our Portland studios for an interview. MPBN Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz asked him if he missed doing daily newscasts, which he retired from in 2009.

Maine Senator Susan Collins talked today about bills she's co-sponsoring to address the nation's opioid crisis. At a hearing in Washington, Collins said that one measure deals with pain medications given to hospice patients after the patients have died.

"Hospice staff are not allowed to dispose of these unused medications, even after the patient has died,” she says. “So, this opens the door to diversion, to theft, to abuse."

Collins says the legislation she's cosponsoring would allow hospice staff to retrieve such leftover medications.

Craig Becker / Courtesy Portland Museum of Art

The Portland Museum of Art is upending its admissions policy - it's going to make it free to everyone 21 years of age and under. The museum says it's part of a campaign to make the museum more welcoming and inclusive. Maine Public Radio’s Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz talked with two people integral to making that happen: Susie Konkel, who donated the money to cover the funds needed to make the change, and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Jones, who is with the museum.

A Maine utility that is facing complaints of unusually high power bills says it has faith that a state audit will determine whether its systems are producing accurate bills.

Central Maine Power officials today said they have yet to find any problems with their billing system. They told reporters on a teleconference there have been nearly 1600 complaints of high bills in recent months.

CMP spokesperson Beth Nowack Cowen said they did uncover some problems with how usage was shown on bills.

Image courtesy of Alan Kryszak

Alan Kryszak’s documentary “Who Made You In America?” explores political viewpoints as they relate to immigration. Kryszak made the film with students at the University of Maine at Machias, who discovered that their own assumptions about the ideological divides between rural and urban, conservative and liberal, failed to capture a much more complicated reality.

Unemployment in Maine's three urban areas continued to be low in February. Figures released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show Bangor had a jobless rate of 3.4 percent, Lewiston-Auburn 3 percent and Portland-South Portland 2.5 percent. All three areas were below the comparable rate for the nation as a whole in February; that figure was 4.4 percent.

While Bangor's unemployment rate rose .1 percent last month, all three metro areas now have jobless rates more than a half-percentage point lower than they did in February 2017.

Courtesy Kelly McDonald

Maine's tourist-related business people will gather in Augusta Wednesday for the state's annual tourism conference.  They'll hear from advertising and marketing specialist Kelly McDonald.  In an interview earlier this week from Denver, Colorado, McDonald told Maine Public Radio's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz that the factors that attract tourists these days go far beyond a comfortable bed and a good meal.  McDonald's talk is titled, "Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like You."

Gov. Paul LePage made waves last week when he called a federal judge an "imbecile." The judge cited LePage's decision to stay at a Trump hotel as cause to pursue two lawsuits against President Trump for violating the Constitution's Emolument's Clause, which bars mixing of business interests and government work.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

An all-electric bus drove around downtown Portland at lunchtime Tuesday.  The Greater Portland Metro Bus system and the Shuttlebus-Zoom bus system serving Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach are considering ordering a few with funding from a federal grant.

At a press event in Portland, Al Schultz, general manager of the Shuttlebus-Zoom service, said the time for electric buses has come.

Willis Ryder Arnold / Maine Public

President Trump, speaking in New Hampshire yesterday, detailed plans for confronting the country's opioid epidemic. In broad strokes, it calls for prevention and education advertising, improved funding for treatment and the death penalty for drug trafficking in certain instances. Dr. Mary Dowd is medical director at Milestone Recovery and has treated people suffering from opioid addiction for years. Dr. Dowd spoke with Maine Public Radio’s Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz.

The federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is out with the latest unemployment data for Maine's three largest urban areas.

The jobless figures for Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn and Portland-South Portland were so low in December there was virtually nowhere for them to go but up – and they did. Bangor from 2.6 percent to 3.3 percent in January, Lewiston Auburn from 2.3 percent to 3 percent, and Portland-South Portland from 2 to 2.5 percent.

Those figures, along with state unemployment numbers, continue to point to a very tight labor market.

Amy Bass has written about Lewiston's experience absorbing thousands of Somali immigrants. Her lens is soccer. Her book is entitled “One Goal.” Bass talks with Maine Public Radio’s Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz about what inspired her to write the book about the Lewiston High School soccer team.

Willis Ryder Arnold / Maine Public

As we reported Monday, students in the Bangor area are planning school walkouts Wednesday to urge lawmakers to make schools safe from gun violence.  Students at other Maine schools are also planning to join in the national walkout to demand tighter gun control laws. They are seen as a way of preventing future school shootings, like the one in Parkland, Florida last month.

Tasha Hipple is a student at Casco Bay High School in Portland and is one of the organizers of student walkouts in the Portland area. She spoke with Maine Public Radio's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz.