By Samantha Delgado
Irwin Gratz, a radio producer for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, was awarded the Wells Memorial Key for service to the Society of Professional Journalists at the president’s banquet on Tuesday night.
The award is SPJ’s highest honor.[caption id="attachment_864" align="alignnone" width="605" caption="Outgoing SPJ President Kevin Smith awards Irwin Gratz with the Well’s Memorial Key, SPJ’s highest honor, at Tuesday night’s banquet. (NIKKI VILLORIA / The Working Press)"][/caption]
Board member Kevin Smith said Gratz “is always willing to step up when needed.”
The audience broke into applause and whistles when Gratz’s name was announced.
Accepting the award, Gratz reminisced about a mentor, Roger Snow, who encouraged him to join SPJ many years ago when he was a student.
“The rest, as they say, is quite remarkable,” said Gratz, who has been in radio news for almost 30 years. He produces “Morning Edition” for Maine’s public broadcasting network and is secretary of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.
Gratz, who served as SPJ president from 2004-2005, said the organization has been a consistent source of professional development for him.
“It has made for me many professional acquaintances and good friends,” he said.
He struck a humble note when he said his contribution to the organization “pales in comparison to what the society has given me.”
The Wells Key is awarded in honor of Chester Wells, SPJ’s second president, who died in office in 1913 at age 26.
Nominees are evaluated by SPJ’s executive officers and chosen based on the amount of service they’ve given to the society over a period of years.
Former executive director Terry Harper was awarded the Wells Key at last year’s convention in Indianapolis. Harper died of brain cancer in June 2009 and his family accepted the award on his behalf.