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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Airport Control Towers
4:29 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Some Northwest Cities Explore Ways To Keep Airport Control Towers Open

Control towers at 13 small to medium sized airports across the Northwest are slated for closure by mid-June.
Credit Beth Redfield

Some Northwest cities and counties are exploring whether to use local or private money to keep their airport control towers open. By mid-June, the federal government plans to close the control towers at 13 small to medium sized airports across the region.

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Tuition Assistance
4:27 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Sequester Suspends Tuition Assistance For Troops

Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - The Defense Department has suspended a workplace benefit cherished by many soldiers, airmen and Coast Guardsmen. The agency has put tuition assistance on indefinite hold because of the automatic federal budget cuts known as the "sequester."

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Women Guitar Makers
6:46 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Rosie The Riveter Had A Sister, Laura The Luthier

Courtesy of John Thomas

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 1:40 pm


PORTLAND - During World War II, a popular song called "Rosie the Riveter" turned female assembly workers into icons. Women filled in at places like the Boeing airplane factory in Seattle and the Kaiser shipyards in Portland while the men went off to war.


But one famous guitar company allegedly tried to hide the fact that it was using female replacements to keep making its musical instruments. Now, seven decades later, a Portland guitarist is helping to tell that story.

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Tsunami Readiness
4:07 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Did 2011 Japan Tsunami Change Preparedness On Northwest Coast?

Oregon Emergency Management Division

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 2:59 pm

The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan served as a wake up call for coastal residents and visitors on our shores. But two years later, it is hard to measure how much that disaster has changed tsunami readiness on the Pacific Northwest coast.

Althea Rizzo is the geologic hazards program coordinator for Oregon Emergency Management. She says she's certain tsunami awareness has increased.

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Washington Jobs
4:01 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Washington Records Unusually Strong Job Gains In January

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 3:22 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The state of Washington recorded unusually strong job gains in January. That's according to new numbers released Wednesday by the state Employment Department. A regular survey of businesses found more than 24,000 new jobs created.

The state's chief labor economist, Joe Elling, says there's evidence of gathering "momentum" in the economy. But the January job gains are so strong, he doesn't quite believe them.

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Airline Control Towers
4:41 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Regional Airlines Intend To Keep Flying If Control Towers Close

Beth Redfield

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 5:10 pm


According to an airport industry association, control towers at 14 small to medium sized airports around the Northwest will close on April 1 in response to automatic federal budget cuts: Four in Idaho and five each in Oregon and Washington. But regional airlines intend to keep flying to those cities they now serve.

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Grain Terminal Dispute
6:33 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Grain Terminal Dispute Temporarily Shuts Down Vancouver, Wash. Port Docks

Colin Fogarty Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 6:03 pm

A union lock out at a big grain export terminal brought all ship loading and unloading to a halt at the Port of Vancouver, Washington Wednesday. It's one of several developments in a long-running labor dispute involving longshore workers and grain handlers.

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Labor Dispute
4:00 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

One Grain Exporter Reaches Labor Deal; Picket Lines At Another

Colin Fogarty Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 6:05 pm

There are several new developments Wednesday in a long-running labor dispute between unionized longshoremen and Northwest grain terminal operators. One grain exporter announced it reached a contract agreement, while another locked out its union workers after discovering what it called sabotage.

Picket lines sprung up almost immediately in front of the United Grain terminal at the Port of Vancouver, Washington. This, after the terminal operator notified the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 4 of a lock out.

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University Research Funding
5:07 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Universities Say Research Funding Cuts May Bring Job Cuts

Jimmy Emerson Flickr

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 4:59 pm

The Northwest's public universities pull in massive amounts of federal research dollars. It totaled $1 billion last year at the University of Washington. Oregon State University won close to $200 million in federal research funds. The University of Idaho is counting on $100 million this year. So it's no surprise that university administrators are hanging on every scrap of news about imminent automatic federal budget cuts.

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Self-Driving Cars
7:33 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Self-Driving Cars Can't Be Driverless Under Proposed State Laws

Google

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 8:34 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. - What if you could just start your car, tell it where you want to go and then sit back and relax until you get there? Well, Google and many automobile manufacturers are hard at work on self-driving "robocars." Now lawmakers in Salem and Olympia are trying to figure out how to update the rules-of-the-road to keep pace with the cars of the future. But automakers are flashing a stop sign, saying it's too soon for new regulation.

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