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.

Pages

Tripe Recipe
8:36 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Oregon Chef Asks If You Have The Guts To Celebrate World Tripe Day

Chef Bennett's Cowboy Calamari.
Credit Sybaris Bistro / Northwest News Network

An Oregon chef is asking if you have the guts to celebrate World Tripe Day on Friday. What is tripe? It's the lining of the cow's stomach.

Matt Bennett is the owner of Sybaris Bistro in Albany. He volunteered to promote consumption of beef stomach on behalf of the British-based Tripe Marketing Board.

"They had good luck with calling it Lancashire calamari, Bennett said. "It is very similar in texture. So they said, 'Well, maybe you could do a Portland calamari or Tillamook,' which was funny because they were apparently just looking at a map."

Read more
Hockey Player Wages
6:07 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Northwest Hockey Teams Targeted By Lawsuit Over Player Wages

This map shows the five U.S. based teams in the Western Hockey League.
Credit Kevin Mooney / Northwest News Network

The pay and treatment of top Northwest hockey players is the subject of a new class action lawsuit. It commenced earlier this week in Canada against the Western Hockey League and its sister leagues. 

Affected teams include the Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs, Tri-City Americans, and Everett Silvertips. 

Read more
Weather & Climate
4:36 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Unusually Mild Start To Autumn Across Northwest

This graphic shows the temperature departure from average for the past 30 days.
Credit Western Regional Climate Center

From a temperature standpoint, autumn is off to an unusually mild start across the Northwest.

The federal government's Western Regional Climate Center generates charts of climate anomalies. They showed average daily temperatures running 2 to 6 degrees above normal for the past month in nearly all of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond said a lingering patch of warm water in the eastern Pacific is contributing to the balmy weather.

Read more
Wild Swimmers
7:09 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Chilly Water No Deterrent To Growing Numbers Of 'Wild Swimmers'

Swimmers enter the water for a mid-October, one mile "excursion" at Alki Beach in Seattle.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

More swimmers in the Northwest are trading the comfort of the pool for a workout in open water.

The English call these people "wild swimmers." It seems an appropriate description when you consider the chilly temperature of most Northwest lakes, rivers and bays. And yet, the popularity of open water swimming is rising.

'I get bored in a pool'

"I usually swim from about May until end of November in open water,” said Mike Tanner, a 43-year-old tech worker from Kirkland, Washington. “Then I go back to the pool and wait for May again."

Read more
Weather & Climate
5:49 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Long Range Forecast Calls For Warmer, Drier Winter

A U.S. winter outlook map for December 2014 through February 2015.
Credit National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond said a lot of what's driving this forecast is an El Niño , a warming cycle in the Pacific Ocean that can have big effects on weather and climate around the globe.

"It is slowly getting started, but it looks like it is happening in the tropical Pacific,” he said. “In the past when we have had those conditions, it has tended to be on the warm, dry side."

As you might imagine, this outlook sends shivers down the spines of anyone who depends on winter snowpack for recreation, water supply or hydropower.

Read more
Unemployment Rate
4:26 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Job Growth Stalls In Washington & Oregon During September

The unemployment rate in Washington rose one-tenth of a point to 5.7 percent in September.
Credit Credit Washington Employment Security Department / Northwest News Network

Job growth stalled during September in Oregon and Washington according to new numbers from the respective state employment departments. In Washington's case, state labor economist Paul Turek is not too concerned though by one month of flat hiring.

"Put it in context of what has been happening in the labor market. We seem to be sustaining momentum. Every now and then we have a little blip," Turek said.

Turek announced Washington's unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a point to 5.7 percent in September.

Read more
Drone Regulation
5:56 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Washington State Police Push Back Against Limits On Drones

Police groups are worried the second attempt to regulate the government use of drones will handcuff their ability to take advantage of the new technology.
Credit Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Law enforcement groups in Washington state are pushing back against possible limits on police use of drones. That happened as a task force convened by the governor wrestled some more Monday about how to regulate small unmanned aircraft.

In April, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee vetoed the Washington Legislature's first attempt to regulate government use of drones. Now police groups are worried the planned second try will handcuff their ability to take advantage of the new technology. Mitch Barker directs the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

Read more
Osborne Panoramas
7:27 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Cross-time Photos From Northwest Lookouts Reveal Big Changes

John Marshall photographs the Cascade Creek burn on the slopes of Mount Adams.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The old saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." That was the reaction of a U.S. Forest Service researcher when he rediscovered a trove of landscape panoramas called the Osborne Panoramas.

The photos were taken during the Great Depression at hundreds of fire lookouts in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

Read more
Drone Maker
7:53 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Military Drone Maker in Columbia River Gorge Sees Great Potential In Civil Uses

A ScanEagle Remotely Piloted Air System.
Credit UK Ministry of Defence

Managers at a military drone maker in the Columbia River Gorge say they see great potential for civil and commercial uses for their best known aircraft. But realizing that promise requires the federal government to finalize rules for drones in the national airspace.

Read more
Drones
4:43 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Amazon Asks FAA For Permission To Test Aerial Delivery Drones Near Seattle

Amazon.com has asked the FAA for permission to test drones outdoors.

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 2:50 pm

When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled plans for aerial drone delivery of packages last year, many observers dismissed the concept as science fiction or pie-in-the-sky.

Read more

Pages