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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Taylor Bridge Fire Growing
6:05 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Dangerous Wildfire Near Ellensburg Still Growing

Washington’s lieutenant governor has declared a state of emergency in central Washington because of a still-growing wildfire. The emergency declaration allows the National Guard to lend helicopters to the firefighting effort. The blaze has chased hundreds of people from their homes between Cle Elum and Ellensburg.

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Taylor Bridge Fire
5:06 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Heavy Air Tankers Battle Taylor Bridge Fire In Central Wash.

Smoke from the fire has led officials to warn people who have difficulty breathing to stay inside.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Heavy air tankers are dropping retardant on a stubborn wildfire still wreaking havoc in Washington’s Kittitas Valley.

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Kittitas Valley Wildfire
4:10 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Firefighters Gaining Upper Hand On Kittitas Valley Wildfire

The Kittitas Valley Wildfire has burned across ridges and canyons between the towns of Cle Elum and Ellensburg.
Richelle Risdon Kittitas County Emergency Management.

Firefighters called in from across Washington state are gaining the upper hand over a destructive wildfire in the Kittitas Valley. Crews with bulldozers are digging fire breaks, and helicopters continue to drop buckets of water on hotspots.

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Wash. Capitol Bag Scare
6:11 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Suspicious Shopping Bag Causes Washington State Capitol Evacuation

Emergency crews respond to a suspicious shopping bag left in the Washington State Capitol.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Washington state troopers evacuated the state capitol building in Olympia for several hours Monday morning due to a bomb scare. Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins says several witnesses saw a woman deposit a cloth shopping bag in the capitol rotunda and walk away.

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Earthquake Risk
5:54 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Earthquake Study Raises Risk Potential Around Central Washington Dams

Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Central Washington was considered at low risk for earthquakes back when big hydropower dams went up on the Columbia River many decades ago. But a recently completed seismic hazard assessment has found greater earthquake potential for the area than previously thought. Now the dam owners have to figure out how to respond. Seismic retrofits could cost ratepayers across the region hundreds of millions of dollars. Correspondent Tom Banse has this exclusive report.

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World War II Flag
5:55 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Washington Veteran Having Difficulty Repatriating Captured War Flag

Close-up of "good luck flag," known as hinomaru yosegaki in Japanese.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Wednesday will mark the 67th anniversary of the Japanese surrender to end World War Two. With each passing anniversary, there are fewer and fewer living witnesses to the event. Correspondent Tom Banse reports time is also running low for an aging U.S. Marine veteran who wants to return a captured Japanese war flag.

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Olympic Goalie
6:04 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Washington’s Hope Solo Makes Big Stops To Earn Team USA Gold

Washington-born and raised goalkeeper Hope Solo saved the day, quite literally, according to her teammates in the Olympic women’s soccer final Thursday. Team USA held on for a 2-1 victory over Japan to win the gold medal. When the final horn sounded, U.S. goalie Solo was mobbed by her fellow players. Solo says she knew the game was on the line when she made a dramatic lunging save in the waning minutes of the game.

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Mt. Baker Climb Reenactment
5:01 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Climbers To Reenact First Ascent Of Mt. Baker

An illustration from a 1869 Harper's Magazine article showing the planting of a flag on the summit of Mt. Baker.
Harper's New Monthly Magazine

This Sunday, a group of mountain climbers, students and Lummi tribal members will embark on an expedition to re-create the first ascent of Washington’s second tallest peak. That's Mount Baker. The modern-day expedition includes historical touches along with some concessions to practicality.

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Citizen Science
6:36 am
Wed August 8, 2012

"Citizen Science" Gains Momentum In Northwest And Nationally

Joan Rupp of Tacoma counts and records bird sightings outside her living room window as part of Project FeederWatch.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Public participation in scientific research is mushrooming in the Northwest and across the country. The trend is called "citizen science." It can take the form of volunteer monitoring and data collection, or crowd-sourced science, or science education with a research component. One sign the movement is gaining acceptance and credibility: It's a big topic of discussion at a science conference in Portland this week. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Northwest Wildfires
4:16 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Hot Spell Heats Up Northwest Wildfire Activity

The Springs Fire is is about two miles east of Banks, Idaho, along Highway 17.
InciWeb

Prolonged hot and dry weather is amping up wildfire activity across the inland Northwest.

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