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" 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.  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.

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 beyond the reach of email.

Ways to Connect

Neither Oregon nor Washington are presidential election battleground states, so the region's TV viewers have been spared the attendant barrage of campaign commercials. But now the Libertarian presidential ticket is going on the air.

Fresh off the Olympic Games, Brazil now hosts the Paralympic Games. Athletes from the Northwest are packing up this week to fly south to compete in sports such as wheelchair rugby, sitting volleyball -- and goalball.

Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Nathan Adrian received a rapturous welcome home from his hometown of Bremerton, Washington, Monday.

The three-time Olympian got the full rock star treatment from his hometown. A police cruiser escorted Adrian from his boyhood home to his high school where screaming fans lined up by the hundreds for an autograph and a picture. Bremerton’s mayor gave him a key to the city.

Donald Trump's campaign has confirmed the Republican presidential nominee is coming to Western Washington for a fundraiser and a rally next Tuesday. There were rumors the campaign swing to the Northwest might not happen after Trump cancelled a similar stop next week in Portland.

There will be free admission to all national parks from Thursday through Sunday to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. President Woodrow Wilson signed the law creating the National Park Service on August 25, 1916.

Washington Rowing

Eight more Olympic medalists with ties to our region stood on the podium this weekend before Brazilian music brought the Summer Games to a close in Rio.

Portland runner Galen Rupp returns to competition at the Summer Olympics early Sunday morning. Rupp will race in the men's marathon just a week after he finished fifth in the 10,000-meter run.

Washington state's above-average unemployment rate hasn't budged since last December. For July, the state’s Department of Employment Security Wednesday again pegged it at 5.8 percent.

A bipartisan coalition of Western U.S. lawmakers has renewed a call to change how the federal government pays to put out big forest fires. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management divert money from fire prevention and other programs to pay firefighting costs during bad fire years.

Bradley Parks / Oregon Public Broadcasting

There were medals a-plenty for Northwest athletes competing at the Summer Olympics in Brazil this weekend. One runner from Portland missed out on the podium in a dramatic race, but got kudos afterwards for sportsmanship.

In a stunning upset in Olympic women's soccer Friday, Sweden eliminated defending gold medalists and reigning World Cup champions Team USA. The quarterfinal match in Brasilia went to penalty kicks after the teams deadlocked 1-1 through 120 minutes of play.

DANIEL BASIL / Wikimedia

Thursday the action is on the water for Northwest athletes at the Summer Olympics -- provided the high winds on a Rio lagoon subside.

A Portland testing lab and a research team led by the University of Victoria have reset assumptions about the durability of biological evidence.

How durable? Wrap your head around 250,000 years.

A popular getaway destination for Northwest outdoor enthusiasts should be under new ownership by this winter. British Columbia's Whistler Blackcomb ski resort has agreed to a friendly takeover by Colorado-based Vail Resorts.

During the decade before the U.S. Civil War, a different conflict made a big impact on the future of the Oregon Territory. It's known as the Rogue River Indian War. But unlike the Civil War battlefields in the eastern U.S. or American South that receive hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, you’ll be hard pressed to tour -- or even find -- those battlefields.

Seattle Storm teammates Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart hit the court this weekend for Team USA’s first game in the Summer Olympics basketball tournament. Stewart is an Olympic rookie while Bird is gunning for her fourth consecutive gold medal.

Flashy Brazilian music and dance is likely to light up your TV screen Friday night when the Olympic cauldron is lit to officially launch the Summer Games. But a lot of the Olympic athletes from the Northwest are skipping the Opening Ceremony in Rio.

There will be plenty of Olympic athletes with local connections to cheer for when the Summer Games begin this week.

National parks will offer free admission on the final weekend of August in honor of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. Before then, the park service centennial is being celebrated with music.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Olympic runners from the Northwest declared themselves prepared and ready to go at a final track meet stateside before flying to Brazil for the Summer Games. Hayward Field in Eugene hosted the first of what the organizers hope will eventually become a big money American track meet circuit, dubbed the TrackTown Summer Series. 

About a dozen wildfires are currently burning around the Northwest. The Bybee fire is a small one at 50 acres. It is uncontained and sending up smoke on the west side of Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon.

Stockholders in Virgin America have approved the acquisition of their airline by Alaska Airlines. The chairman of Virgin America announced the voting results at a brief shareholders meeting Tuesday.

Bet you didn't know people can bet on the outcome of the presidential election via the lottery. Not our lottery mind you, but the one in British Columbia.

California, Oregon and Washington state have lofty goals for increasing the number of non-polluting vehicles on the road. To achieve those goals, you and your neighbors will need to buy electric cars at a higher rate that we're seeing now.

Hundreds of electric car enthusiasts and policymakers gathered this week in Portland to weigh how to accelerate consumer demand.

Some players in an emerging technology industry in central Washington state are about to face higher electric bills. That’s because a major utility wants to protect itself from the uncertainties surrounding the trade in virtual currencies such as bitcoin.

Earth movers are beginning to move dirt for a better runway at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport on the Idaho-Washington border. Construction work has begun even though difficult negotiations to acquire needed land under the new runway's approach are not concluded.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Audio Pending...

The U.S. Army is having unprecedented success this summer qualifying soldiers to compete at the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil. The Army supports a corps of runners who nearly all come from the cradle of distance running champions in Kenya. Some live and train in Beaverton, Oregon. Correspondent Tom Banse explains why the Army is grooming Olympic athletes, a bunch of whom only recently became U.S. citizens.

Six players from the women's pro soccer teams in Seattle and Portland were named Tuesday to the U.S. Olympic Team for the Summer Games in Brazil. Seattle Reign goalkeeper Hope Solo and midfielder Megan Rapinoe got the nod, along with Portland Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg and midfielders Lindsey Horan, Allie Long and Tobin Heath.

It was clear once again that the Northwest is a hotbed for elite running on the final day of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials in Eugene Sunday. Oregon and Washington were well represented in many of the race line-ups. And the same can be said of the U.S. track and field team as a whole.

Close to one-quarter of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team heading to Brazil next month -- 28 runners and throwers -- have Northwest connections.

The Federal Aviation Administration emailed all 500,000 drone owners in its registry this week to remind them to stay away from wildfires. Close calls between hobby drones and firefighting aircraft persist across the West despite repeated warnings.

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