Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse covers business, environment, public policy, human interest and national news across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be heard during "Morning Edition," "Weekday," and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

Before taking his current beat, Tom covered state government and the Washington Legislature for 12 years. During the early 1990s, he worked in the Seattle bureau of United Press International. He got his start in radio at WCAL–FM, a public station in southern Minnesota. Reared in Seattle, Tom graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota with a degree in American Studies. In 1996, he spent two months reporting from Bonn and Berlin, Germany on an Arthur F. Burns Fellowship. In 1999, he traversed the globe to cover the Pacific Rim (Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan) on a Jefferson Fellowship.

When not sifting through press releases, listening to lobbyists, or driving lonely highways, Tom enjoys exploring the Olympic Peninsula backcountry and cooking dinner with his wife and friends. Tom's secret ambition is to take six months off work and travel to a faraway place where there are no radios.

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911 Calls
7:50 am
Mon August 18, 2014

What Happens When Callers To 911 Speak No English?

Dispatch supervisor Brenda Faxon and director Mark Buchholz in the Willamette Valley 9-1-1 Communications Center in Salem.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

In an emergency, the last thing you want to hear is, "I can't understand you." The reality is emergency dispatchers in the Northwest generally speak one language, English. But in our increasingly polyglot society, some people in distress inevitably can't communicate in English. Correspondent Tom Banse takes us inside a 911 call center to find out what happens then.

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Nothwest Wildfires
7:44 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Is Wildfire Severity Really Getting Worse?

Is this year's fire season the worst it has ever been? New research suggests it's not.
Credit InciWeb

It might seem like fire season is as bad as it's ever been. But there's a group of researchers who question that prevailing wisdom.

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Pacific Trail Record
7:38 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Seattle Runner Smashes Speed Record For Full Length Of Pacific Crest Trail

Seattle native Joe McConaughy reached the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail in record time Sunday.
Credit Michael Dillon / Run for Colin

A 23-year-old Seattle man has smashed the speed record for hiking the full length of the Pacific Crest Trail. Recent college grad Joe McConaughy crossed into Canada on Sunday, exactly 53 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes after leaving the Mexican border on the storied trail. McConaughy says he felt elation and disbelief at the finish of the 2,660 mile journey.

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Saving Ospreys
7:10 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Fatal Attraction: Ospreys In A Bind With Baling Twine, Fishing Line

This is how ospreys’ unhealthy affinity for baling twine can kill. Idaho Fish and Game biologist Beth Waterbury rescued this osprey in the nick of time.
Credit Beth Waterbury / Idaho Fish and Game

Osprey nests are a common sight near rivers, lakes and bays around here. If you look closely with binoculars, you might notice some of these large raptors like to line their nests with discarded baling twine or fishing line. The problem is it can kill them. Now wildlife biologists are working with ranchers and at boat ramps to keep the attractive nuisance out of the ospreys' clutches. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from Missoula.

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Grizzly Research
6:41 am
Wed August 6, 2014

How A Fat Grizzly Bear Could Help You Avoid Diabetes

Washington State University is home to the nation's only captive grizzly bear research center.
Credit Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

Washington State University’s mascot is the cougar, but the university is also home to the nation’s only captive grizzly bear research center. Correspondent Tom Banse reports a new study involving those bears yields insights into possible therapies for human obesity and diabetes.

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Controversial Motto
6:46 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Pierce County First In Northwest To Approve 'In God We Trust' Motto Display

Credit Kevin Dooley / Flickr

A divided county council in Pierce County, Washington voted Tuesday to display the motto "In God We Trust" in its chambers. That makes it the first jurisdiction in the Northwest to become part of a national campaign to feature the motto. Correspondent Tom Banse reports the approval came with a twist.

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Radiation Testing
7:26 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Donors Pay To Test Seawater For Traces Of Fukushima Radiation

Swimmer Wayne Kinslow prepares to dive into Puget Sound at Alki Beach, a place he personally paid to have tested for traces of Fukushima radiation.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

It's been more than three years since the Fukushima nuclear plant accident resulted in a spill of millions of gallons of radioactive cooling water into the Pacific. Oceanographers projected that it could take until this year for highly diluted traces of that spill in Japan to reach our coast (i.e., the West Coast of North America). Radiation experts don't believe there is cause for alarm on our shores. But some coastal residents are stepping forward to pay for seawater testing just to be sure. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Wolverine Threatened Status
7:21 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Endangered Species Listing For Wolverine Looking Doubtful

A close-up shot of a wolverine.
Credit Tambako the Jaguar / Flickr

A federal threatened species listing for the wolverine is looking increasingly unlikely. Protected status was put on the table in anticipation of harm due to global warming. At present, the fierce and rare carnivore is making a slow comeback in the Northwest and Northern Rockies. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Wild Horse Removal
7:16 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Feds To Remove Fewer Wild Horses From Western Rangelands This Year

The Bureau of Land Management plans to remove fewer wild horses from rangelands in the coming months.
Credit MTSOfan / Flickr

The federal Bureau of Land Management plans to capture and remove fewer wild horses from Western rangelands this summer. An agency statement blames budget constraints and already-full holding pens. Correspondent Tom Banse has more.

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Women's World Cup
5:23 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

World Cup Fans Take Note, 2015 Women's Tourney Final In Vancouver, BC

File photo of BC Place in Vancouver, Canada
Credit Province of British Columbia

Organizers of the next (FIFA) Women's World Cup hope to leverage the unusually high interest in this year's men's tournament in Brazil to their benefit. Northwest sports fans may want to note that group play and the 2015 World Cup final will take place just across the border in Vancouver, Canada. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Vancouver is one of six host cities in Canada for the Women's World Cup next summer. Nine matches including the final will be played in BC Place stadium over the span of a month.

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