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

Caitlin Troutman / Maine Public

The attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, has changed things for many. That includes food pantries.

The increasing restrictions on gatherings and movement are leaving more people without jobs and the money needed even to get the most basic necessities. That is driving increased demand for Maine's food pantries. But at the same time, some are reporting trouble getting surplus food because people, afraid of disruptions, have been buying store shelves clean.

The number of Mainers applying for unemployment jumped by more than 30 times last week, according to the Maine Department of Labor.

The head of the Maine AFL-CIO says the pandemic relief measure the U.S. Senate approved Wednesday night will provide relief for workers.

Traffic on the Maine Turnpike has fallen drastically - by about half - in recent days.  Meanwhile, the Maine Turnpike Authority has sent most staff home, but is planning to continue construction for now.

The VA Maine Healthcare System is making changes in its operations to deal with the new coronavirus. Many of the changes echo those made by other major healthcare providers in Maine.

Many school districts have pushed back the date on which they hope students can return to their classrooms. 

Five-thousand Mainers have filed unemployment claims just since Sunday, state labor officials say. Meanwhile, the Maine Legislature has moved to make it quicker and easier for people to get unemployment checks.

Concord Coach Lines

With so many working from home these days, chances are slimmer than usual that you'll need a bus or train Thursday to get to where you're going. But, if you do, here's an update on changes to public transportation services in the wake of COVID-19:

A drive up testing center for people showing symptoms of the coronavirus will open Friday in Bangor. But Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center Senior Vice President, Dr. James Jarvis, says the center will not be open to the general public. He told reporters Wednesday that the testing will be done on individuals who have symptoms that a medical professional determines raises the possibility of coronavirus infection.

Public transportation services are beginning to reduce operations as people are scaling back travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Willis Ryder Arnold / Maine Public

Supporters of the "National Popular Vote Compact" are touring Maine for the next three days. States that agree to join the compact pledge to give all of their electoral college votes to the winner of the popular vote nationally. 

The League of Women Voters of Maine, which backs the proposal, invited former California state Sen. Ray Haynes, a Republican, to make the case for the compact Monday in Bangor.

The Maine Legislature is considering a bill that would establish a "Maine Spaceport Complex Leadership Council." Spaceport as in rocket launching.

Wikimedia Commons

We continue our ongoing series of reports that tell the story of Maine's bicentennial by going back 200 years to this day, March 3. It was a critical date in Maine's decades-long effort to separate from Massachusetts.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

As concerns increase about the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, in the United States, Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz sat down with Dr. Dora Mills, former head of the Maine Center for Disease Control and now MaineHealth's chief health improvement officer, to discuss the virus's potential threat to Mainers. They talked about best practices for preventative and treatment care, as well as what symptoms actually look like.

The deaths of two young children, Marissa Kennedy and Kendall Chick, shocked the state into action in the winter of 2017-2018. Marissa was 10 and Kendall just 4 years old.