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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Caffeinated Coastal Waters
4:37 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

Study: Coastal Oregon Waters Slightly Caffeinated

Is Portland's love of coffee leading to the caffeination of Oregon coastal waters?
Diane Gilleland Flickr

The Northwest is known for its love of coffee. Now evidence of that is showing up in the Pacific Ocean. Researchers have found low levels of caffeine at half a dozen locations on the Oregon Coast.

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Earthquake Risk
6:07 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Tolerable Risk Vs. Terrible Catastrophe When It Comes To Dams And The Big One

It's a question all of us face sooner or later: whether to spend a good chunk of money to protect against a catastrophe that has a very low chance of occurring. A workshop that just wrapped up in Corvallis considered that dilemma in the context of Northwest dams and a magnitude 9 earthquake. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Sudanese Olympic Runner
6:31 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Northwest Runner Wants To Leverage Olympic Platform To Help South Sudan

Lopez Lomong (second from right) racing at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Athletes going to the London Olympics commonly have stories of overcoming adversity. But few can top African-born distance runner Lopez Lomong. The one time "Lost Boy" of Sudan relocated to the Portland area last year. He's running for Team USA, but hopes to leverage Olympic success into greater aid and attention for his former homeland. Correspondent Tom Banse introduces us.

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Japanese Earthquakes
5:57 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Northwest States Mapping Liquefaction Susceptibility

Soil liquefaction and lateral spreading in Tumwater, WA after the 2001 Nisqually Quake.
Photo courtesy UW College of Engineering

Two major earthquakes last year raised red flags for the Northwest. Some of the damage from those quakes in Japan and New Zealand resulted from a phenomenon called liquefaction. This is when the ground turns to jello or quicksand. Transmission towers topple, buildings sink and utility pipes break. Now, geologists in the Northwest have mapped the spots most likely to liquefy here in an earthquake. Correspondent Tom Banse begins our story in Japan.

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Early Human DNA Found
4:47 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

South-Central Oregon Caves Yield Early Human DNA

Archaeologist Dennis Jenkins holds dried feces taken from Oregon's Paisley Caves.
Jim Barlow Univ. of Oregon

An archeological dig at a group of remote caves in south-central Oregon may force some rethinking about how the first humans colonized North America. Scientists found the critical evidence in a form you might not expect.

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Canada Recruiting Unemployed Workers
3:40 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Alberta Looks To Lure Pacific Northwest Unemployed

Job recruiters from Edmonton and other places in northern Alberta are seeking skilled workers from the Pacific Northwest.
Neil and Kathy Carey Flickr

Job recruiters from booming Alberta, Canada see opportunity amidst the high unemployment rates of Washington and Oregon. They're in Seattle this week inviting unemployed skilled workers in the Northwest to consider moving north.

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Social Media Emergencies
6:05 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Tweeting Through Natural Disaster

The next time a big wildfire erupts or an earthquake unleashes near you, Twitter, Google and Facebook might be useful places to turn. And not just you. Disaster response agencies are plunging into social media. They can develop better situational awareness by seeking out your online gripes and observations. Digital platforms also provide an avenue to give more frequent official updates and correct misinformation during a catastrophe. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Tsunami Debris Cleanup
5:59 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Hundreds Turn Out To Clean Up Coastal Beaches

Beach cleanup volunteers found this refrigerator with Japanese labels on July 5.
Photo by Shelly Pollock

More than 700 volunteers turned out Thursday to help pick up litter and flotsam on the Oregon and southwest Washington coasts. Volunteers were on alert for debris from last year's tsunami in Japan. There were some possible new finds on Long Beach, Washington. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

The fifth of July is a traditional beach cleanup day in Manzanita and Seaside, Oregon and on Washington's Long Beach Peninsula. The coordinator of Manzanita's cleanup estimates the three dump truck loads hauled away were "99 percent fireworks" related.

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Olympic Trials
6:34 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Disproportionately High Number Of Northwest Runners On Team USA

Historic Hayward Field in Eugene hosted the 2012 Olympic Track & Field Trials.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Two more runners and two javelin throwers from the Northwest claimed spots in the London Olympics on the final scheduled day of competition at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

Runners, jumpers and throwers from the Northwest performed well in these Olympic Trials. In fact, more than 20 percent of the athletes on the U.S. Olympic track and field team have ties to our region. Correspondent Tom Banse looked for reasons behind the disproportionately high local representation.

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Olympic Pole Vaulter
7:32 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Second Time The Charm For Washington’s Olympic Pole Vaulter?

A pole vaulter with roots in Seattle and Spokane hopes the second time will be the charm at the Olympics. Brad Walker secured a return trip to the Summer Games with a first place finish at the U.S. Track and Field Trials in Eugene Thursday night. Back in 2008, the former University of Washington Husky set a new American record, qualified for the Olympic team, but then didn’t clear a single height at the Beijing Olympics. Walker says he wants “redemption” very badly this summer.

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