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

Courtesy Suja Thomas

PORTLAND, Maine - They are the embodiment of the U.S. legal system:  a trial held before a jury of one’s peers.  But jury trials are happening less-and-less frequently. 

It’s the subject of a recently published book by Professor Suja Thomas of the University of Illinois College of Law, “The Missing American Jury:  Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil and Grand Juries.” 


PORTLAND, Maine - For this campaign season, MPBN is reuniting Sam Surprise and Brenda Garrand for their takes on campaign advertising.  Surprise heads Surprise Advertising, Garrand is president of Garrand & Company.  Maine hasn't yet been overrun by television advertising so far, but as Surprise points out, the fight for the 2nd Congressional District seat between Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin and Democratic challenger Emily Cain is underway over the air.

PORTLAND, Maine - Chet Lunner is a former editor of the Portland Evening Express newspaper. But the biggest story that he's encountered, by far, is the one that happened after he left journalism:  the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. By then, Lunner was working for the federal government. As the 15th anniversary of the attacks approaches, Lunner talks with MPBN's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz about where he was that fateful day, what it meant for his career in government, and what worries him today.


PORTLAND, Maine - The Federal Reserve's latest "Beige Book" assessment of economic conditions is out, and for New England, it finds some economic growth, along with scattered signs that the rate of growth is slowing.

The Federal Reserve says sales of retailers ranged from down slightly to up 2.4 percent over a year ago.   Clothing and footwear are selling well, but furniture and other household goods are lagging.

The Fed contacted seven manufacturing firms, six of which said their business is improving.

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.