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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Tsunami Prep Fun
7:25 am
Mon September 29, 2014

5K Run/Walk In Cannon Beach Injects Fun Into Tsunami Readiness

Runners set off from the beach during the inaugural "Race the Wave" 5K fun run/walk.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

People along the Oregon Coast ran for their lives Sunday to escape an imaginary tsunami. Local, state and federal emergency management agencies hatched the idea for a 5K fun run and walk along an actual tsunami evacuation route in Cannon Beach. The event was an example of trying to inject some levity in the serious business of disaster readiness.

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Eating Invasive Species
8:10 am
Mon September 22, 2014

What's For Dinner? How 'Bout Nutria, Bullfrog Legs, Sorrel And Carp

Chef Hamid Serdani serves a feral pig chop on a bed of mashed potatoes and sauteed dandelion greens with a blackberry balsamic curry sauce at the 2013 edition of the invasive species cook-off.
Credit Cassandra Profita / OPB

On September 28, several hundred people are expected to gather at a vineyard near Salem, Oregon, to chew on the problem of invasive species.

This is not just food for thought though. Celebrity chefs will compete in a cook-off using undesirable weeds and animals.

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Relief Flights
7:52 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Alaska Airlines Schedules More Rescue Flights From Baja Mexico

Credit Aero Icarus / Flickr

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines plans to launch five more jets Friday to evacuate American vacationers from Los Cabos, Mexico. A hurricane slammed the resort area at the beginning of this week. Since then, there have been reports of looting, no water and electricity, and food shortages. Airlifts to get stranded tourists out of there started Wednesday and ramped up Thursday. Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Halley Knigge greeted the first wave of arrivals in Los Angeles.

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Relief Flights
4:00 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Alaska Rescue Flights Dispatched To Mexico

Vacationers eager to get out of Los Cabos, Mexico, lined up on the tarmac Wednesday.
Credit Alaska Airlines

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is dispatching jets today to evacuate American vacationers from Los Cabos, Mexico. Baja California is still reeling from the direct hit by Hurricane Odile at the beginning of this week.

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Wash. Unemployment
4:54 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Unemployment Rate Holds Steady In August In Washington State

Credit Jodi Green / Flickr

The latest reading on unemployment in Washington state shows the rate holding steady in August at 5.6 percent. That's half a percentage point below the national rate according to a report from Washington's employment department Wednesday. 


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Enterovirus Outbreak
6:41 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Suspected Enterovirus Outbreak Widens In Northwest

Credit Army Medicine / flickr

Public health authorities in Washington and Idaho are now investigating at least 79 cases of a serious respiratory illness that affects children. The widening disease outbreak is suspected - but not confirmed - to be a rare strain of enterovirus. 


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Hockey Players
7:56 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Hockey Inquiry Turns On Whether Players Are 'Student Athletes' Or Workers

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

The Western Hockey League opens its regular season next weekend. The players you'll see on the ice are mostly teenagers. That fact has state labor investigators asking if the four Washington teams are breaking child labor laws.

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Fire Lookout Cameras
6:17 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Remotely Monitored Video Cameras Replace Some Human Fire Lookouts

Fire Lookouts Still Standing Known to be staffed
Kevin Mooney

Remotely monitored video cameras are replacing some human fire lookouts on mountaintops around the Northwest. 


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Tobacco
6:58 am
Mon September 8, 2014

$58 Million Judgment Adds To Woes Of Cigarette Maker On Yakama Reservation

King Mountain Tobacco grows a portion of the tobacco it manufactures into cigarettes on the Yakama reservation.
Credit King Mountain Tobacco website

A federal judge in Eastern Washington has ruled a cigarette maker on the Yakama Reservation owes $58 million in unpaid taxes and penalties. The privately owned tobacco company has tried - so far unsuccessfully - to assert a treaty right to trade tax free. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Lead Army Doctor Suspended
5:33 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Army Suspends Brig. General In Charge of Western Region Medical Care

Brig. General John Cho speaks at an Army town hall meeting in March 2014.
Credit John Brooks / U.S. Army

The Army Surgeon General today suspended the commander in charge of Army hospitals in 20 western states. The reason for removing the Army's top doc in the West is a bit mysterious, as correspondent Tom Banse reports.


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