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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Privatized Liquor
5:45 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Liquor Privatization In Washington State, One Year Later

June 1 will mark one year since grocers, big box stores and other private retailers started selling liquor in Washington state.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

As of June 1, it will be one year since grocers, big box stores and other private retailers started selling liquor in Washington state. The voter approved privatization initiative has sent prices unexpectedly higher. Also, the government is collecting more tax revenue than anticipated.

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Vegetarian Trout
7:30 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Farmed Trout Go Vegetarian (Sort Of), Taste Virtually The Same

Alternative feeds resulted in slightly different colors and textures in trout fillets.
Credit Tom Banse

The search is on for a cost-effective alternative fish food. And we don't mean the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream flavor. What we're talking about is the pellets fed to farmed fish. A key ingredient in commercial feed is other fish caught in the wild. Northwest trout farmers - and some salmon growers - recognize that practice is unsustainable. But trout are carnivores. They can't just become vegetarians, or can they? Correspondent Tom Banse joined a taste test to see if seafood consumers can tell any difference.

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Unusual Power Plant
5:07 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Unusual Funding For Unusual Proof-of-Concept Power Plant

A renewable energy consultant and the Oregon Institute of Technology have come up with an unusual financing plan for an even more unusual power plant idea.

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Equity Crowdfunding
8:00 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Should State Green Light Equity Crowdfunding?

Throwboy founder Roberto Hoyos
Credit Tom Banse

Crowdfunding websites have grown rapidly as a way to raise money for creative ventures... everything from movies to scientific research to clever inventions. You might have heard of Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Rockethub. It would be just a small leap to use those same platforms to sell shares in a startup. That's illegal right now, but maybe not for long. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Electric Car Sales
4:44 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Nissan Electric Car Sales Booming In Pacific Northwest

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 7:37 pm


The automaker Nissan says sales of its fully electric Leaf compact surpassed all other Nissan models at dealers in the Seattle and Portland areas this spring. The announcement Wednesday runs counter to the prevailing wisdom that adoption of plug-in cars has been sluggish.


At Nissan USA headquarters, electric vehicle marketing & sales director Erik Gottfried says he's scrambling to ship enough Leafs to meet demand in the Pacific Northwest. The car maker juiced its plug-in sales by slashing the sticker price and offering low-cost leases.

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Washington Unemployment
3:57 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Unemployment Rate Down To 7 Percent In Washington State

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 2:59 pm

The unemployment rate in Washington state is down to a flat 7 percent. That news from the state employment department Wednesday. The agency recorded a drop in the jobless rate of 0.1 percent in April.

State labor economist Scott Bailey says that puts Washington's rate at the lowest it's been since the end of 2008. "Overall, we're seeing accelerating growth in terms of jobs compared to say a year ago."

Bailey estimates a net gain of 3,800 jobs statewide last month.

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Luring Larks
4:42 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Can This Rare Songbird Be Lured Away From Risky Neighborhoods?

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 4:44 pm

A songbird called the streaked horned lark has a curious propensity for risky neighborhoods. That's not a good quality for a bird proposed for listing as a threatened species. Its preferred hangouts include airports, Army training fields, and dredge spoil dumping sites along the lower Columbia River. A two-state experiment seeks to find out if these rare larks can be enticed to safer habitats.

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Sergeant Convicted At JBLM
3:49 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Guilty Verdict At JBLM In Trial Of Sgt. Accused of Baghdad Shooting Spree

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 11:39 am

A case that featured harrowing testimony of combat-related mental illness ended Monday with a guilty verdict. Army Sergeant John Russell was convicted for murdering five fellow servicemen at a military mental health clinic in Baghdad in 2009.

A military judge found the 48-year-old Texas native guilty of premeditated murder. A public affairs spokesman at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma says Sergeant Russell showed no visible reaction.

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Air Force Tankers
4:08 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Air Force Says New Air Refueling Tanker Program On Track

Corey Parrish US Air Force

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 5:06 pm

Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane is planning a public memorial service for three of its airmen killed in a mid-air explosion over central Asia. The cause of the air refueling tanker accident last Friday remains under investigation. The crash renews attention on a Boeing Company contract to replace the Air Force's aging tanker fleet.

The doomed Fairchild Air Force Base crewmates were flying a KC-135 Stratotanker built by Boeing in the early 1960s. By all accounts, Air Force mechanics keep the 50-year-old tanker fleet in good condition.

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Losses In Honey Bee Colonies
4:39 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Northwest Beekeepers Impatient With Cautious EPA

Scott Butner Flickr

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 4:53 pm


A swarm of factors is causing heavy losses in honey bee colonies. That's the bottom line of a report issued jointly Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report identifies a parasitic mite as a leading culprit in combination with diseases, poor nutrition, genetics and pesticide exposure. People who care about bees here in the Northwest were underwhelmed.

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