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.


Town-To-Town Hiking
7:49 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Town-To-Town Trekking Vision For Columbia River Gorge Inches Forward

Jean Akers and Tom Griffith scouted routes for a new trail from Lyle, Washington to adjacent public lands earlier this month.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Hut-to-hut or village-to-village trekking is a popular vacation pursuit in regions as diverse as Europe, New Zealand, the Himalayas and Vietnam. It's not much heard of in the U.S. Now some hikers, businesses and nonprofits are promoting a vision of walking holidays right here in the Northwest - in the Columbia River Gorge. But the town-to-trails hiking concept clashes with some old-timers' visions for the Gorge.

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Women's World Cup
4:41 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

U.S. Women's World Cup Squad Includes Four Northwest Soccer Pros

The U.S. Women's National Team has called up Portland Thorns teammates Alex Morgan, left, and Tobin Heath for the FIFA Women's World Cup. Christine SInclar, far right, will play for Team Canada.
bellyflopz Flickr

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 8:45 am

The U.S. Women's National Team coach has named four soccer pros from the Northwest to the World Cup roster Tuesday.

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César Chávez Day
3:56 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Should Washington State Recognize César Chávez Day?

File photo of César Chávez speaking at the Delano UFW -- United Farm Workers rally in Delano, California, June 1972.

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 4:04 pm

In California, March 31 is a legal holiday. Schools and government offices are closed for César Chávez Day.

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5:02 am
Fri April 10, 2015

Puget Sound Lawmaker Pitches New Bridge Built With Old Aircraft Carriers

In this 2012 aerial view of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the aircraft carriers Independence, Kitty Hawk, Constellation and Ranger are visible. The Ranger and Constellation have since been scrapped.
Jelson25 Wikimedia

Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 8:06 am

There's money in a state highway budget that passed the Washington House Thursday to study a one-of-a-kind possible toll bridge fashioned out of retired Navy aircraft carriers.

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3:25 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Washington Highway Speed Limit Increase Now In Governor's Hands

The speed limit on some rural Washington highways could soon go up to 75 mph.
Famartin Wikimedia

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 3:44 pm

Washington drivers might get to drive 75 on some rural highways.

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Northwest News
6:56 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Speed Traps Lurk For Proposals To Increase Highway Speed Limits

The top speed limit in Oregon is 65, compared to 80 in neighboring Idaho.
Credit Curtis Perry / Flickr

We know the old saying that "speed kills" applies to people who drive recklessly. But does it also apply to legislation to raise highway speed limits? An interstate speed limit increase in Washington looks dead, but appears to have a chance in Oregon.

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Tastier Veggies
4:21 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

Plant Breeders Aim To Save Northwest From Bland Veggies

OSU plant breeder Jim Myers examines tomatoes in a greenhouse on the Corvallis campus.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 8:08 pm

You know the beautiful, mass-produced tomatoes you can buy at the grocery store? You can drop one and it'll bounce back unharmed, but doesn't taste like much.

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4:50 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Western Drought Response Kicks Into Higher Gear

Washington officials say the state is experiencing a 'snowpack drought.'

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 4:44 pm

California Governor Jerry Brown ordered statewide mandatory water saving measures Wednesday. Water managers are preparing for drought in Oregon and Washington state as well.

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Japanese Flags Returned
7:12 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Aging U.S. Veterans Seek To Return Captured WWII Flags To Japan

U.S. Army veteran Buck Weatherill brought this flag home from WWII.
Rex Ziak

Some aging veterans of World War Two are embarking on one more mission related to that long ago war. In some cases, wives or children are taking on the mission if the vet has passed away. The object is to return Japanese flags taken as war souvenirs from Pacific battlefields.

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Powdered Alcohol
5:26 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Washington Lawmakers Consider Banning Powdered Alcohol

Palcohol creator Mark Phillips pours the powdered alcohol equivalent of one shot of vodka into a glass in a promotional video on the company's website.

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 5:05 pm

A bi-partisan group of lawmakers in the Washington legislature launched a move Tuesday to ban powdered alcohol.

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