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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Age Discrimination Lawsuit
6:09 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Age Discrimination Lawsuit Leaves Wounds In Seniors-Only Retirement Haven

Ryderwood's place in history is noted as you enter the town, pop. 400.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

When you approach your golden years, who doesn't look forward to peace and quiet surrounded by a supportive community? That desire led some retirees to relocate to a tiny town deep in the woods of southwest Washington. Ryderwood bills itself as the nation's first seniors-only retirement village. But the tranquility that lured people there went missing during a long and divisive lawsuit. The case questioned whether this 400 or so strong community could be so exclusive. It came replete with allegations of shunning, death threats, uncollected garbage and the tossing of a headless rabbit. Correspondent Tom Banse reports on the relief that has followed a settlement.

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Oso Landslide
7:16 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Landslide Tragedy Prompts Board To 'Take Stock' Of Logging Rules Around Unstable Slopes

The Oso landslide area.
Credit Photo courtesy Washington Governor's Office

State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark repeated Monday that "It's still too early to tell" if there is a connection between logging and this spring's deadly landslide near Oso, Washington. Even so, a state panel that sets timber harvest rules decided it was worthwhile to take an all-day look at landslide hazards. Correspondent Tom Banse reports the widow of a slide victim delivered a call to action.

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Native American History
7:31 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Gathering The Stories Of Northwest People "Left Out" Of History

Author LLyn De Danaan at home in Mason County, Washington.
Credit Mary Randlett

It started with the discovery of long-forgotten gravestones in a thicket of bramble and alder. That set one author on the faint trail of a feisty Native American woman and oyster farmer who lived in 19th century western Washington. The biographer is using the resulting book to inspire other Northwesterners - particularly tribal members. She wants to bring out the stories of people who, in her words, have been "left out of our histories." Correspondent Tom Banse reports from Oyster Bay in Mason County, Washington.

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Mount St. Helens
4:51 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Magma Rising Beneath Mount St. Helens, But No Eruption Imminent

File photo of Mount St. Helens
Credit Wes Peck/Flickr

Scientists monitoring Mount St. Helens confirmed Wednesday that magma is on the rise and "re-pressurizing" the volcano in southwest Washington. However, they also stress there are no signs of an imminent eruption. 

Scientists keep tabs on Mount St. Helens with seismometers and very sensitive GPS instruments. Earthquake activity is still low. The GPS stations are more revealing. They show the volcano swelling modestly.

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Castaways
11:30 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Japanese Retrace Path Of History-Making Castaways 180 Years Later

Japanese Boy Scouts donated this replica of the ill-fated junk to the Makah Museum.
Credit Friends of MacDonald

After 180 years, it's not too late to say thank you. That's what a Japanese delegation did on a visit last week to the Makah Indian Reservation on the Washington coast.

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Fishing Season
8:38 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Banner Summer Salmon Fishing Season On Tap In Ocean

Wednesday afternoon, a federal fisheries management panel approved what some charter captains are calling the best ocean fishing season in 20 years. It's a big turnaround from the recent past when ocean salmon fishing was sharply curtailed or not allowed at all.

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Snohomish County Mudslide
6:08 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Inslee Happy With Federal Aid For Landslide, But Says It Won't 'Make People Whole'

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson visited the landslide site on April 6, 2014.
Credit Office of the Governor

    

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says he's pleased with the federal disaster relief flowing to the state for last month's deadly landslide in Snohomish County.

But during an interview with public radio Wednesday, Inslee said the arrival of the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) aid does not replace private charity.

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Beaked Whales
5:09 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Northwest Researchers Document Whales Which Set New Breath-Hold Record

Satellite tag being attached to the dorsal fin of a Cuvier's beaked whale. The tagging arrow can be seen in the air as it detaches from the tag.
Credit Erin Falcone Cascadia Research under NOAA permit 16111

Think about how long you can hold your breath and then let this discovery blow your mind. Northwest-based whale researchers have documented a new breath-hold record among mammals. They timed a dive by a beaked whale that lasted 2 hours and 17 minutes.

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Snohomish County Mudslide
5:52 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Frontline View Shows Why Search For Landslide Victims Is Slow

Rescuers are using construction equipment to help with the search for victims of Saturday's landslide near Oso, Wash.
Credit Snohomish County

Emergency managers in Snohomish County, Washington are allowing a select number of relatives of the missing to join the search for victims from Saturday’s massive landslide. 

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Oso Landslide
8:09 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Dogs Most Effective Search Tool As Death Toll Mounts From Massive Landslide

Search and rescue helicopters are flying to and from the square mile of mud and debris.
Credit Snohomish County Sheriffs Office

The official death toll from Saturday’s massive landslide near Oso, Washington rose from 14 to 16 Tuesday night. Emergency managers say they have located eight additional fatalities under the mud, but will not add them to the total until the bodies are recovered. Dozens and dozens of people are still listed as missing or unaccounted for. We expect an update on that number this morning. 

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