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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Earthquake Warning System
5:12 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Prototype Early Warning System Worked During Cal. Quake Friday

This GPS station near the summit of Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park could be part of a future earthquake detection and early warning system.
Photo credit: Tim Melbourne, CWU Northwest News Network

A prototype, earthquake early warning system, worked as designed when an actual quake gently shook California last Friday. Researchers reported the results Tuesday at the annual meeting of American seismologists.

Last year, a private foundation in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey gave a multimillion dollar grant to create an automated earthquake warning system for the Pacific Coast states. The idea is to provide advance notice to prepare people for severe shaking. It could come via a cell phone alert or a pop-up on your computer or TV screen.

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NW Farmers Bullish
4:23 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

NW Farm Economy Described As Mostly Bullish Entering Spring

Whitman County, WA farm
Photo Credit: Tom Banse Northwest News Network

A new market survey finds many of the region's farmers in an optimistic mood because demand is strong and commodity prices are high. Exceptions to the overall trend include dairy and onion farmers.

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Resevoir Draining
4:16 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Army Corps Getting Ready For "Big Water"

The Grand Coulee Dam is one of many dams being "drafted" to release water.
Photo Credit: United States Bureau of Reclamation

GRAND COULEE DAM, Wash. -- Federal water and dam managers are draining reservoirs in the Columbia and Snake River basins to get ready for "big water" coursing downriver. In recent weeks, the Army Corps of Engineers has called for bigger drawdowns, or as the agency calls it "drafting", to protect against flooding. Supervisory engineer Peter Brooks says more room is needed to catch runoff from the bountiful snows of March.

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Washington Budget
3:41 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

Wash. Governor Wishes New Budget Had Bigger Cushion Of Reserves

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is concerned by the slim cushion of reserves in the state's budget.
Photo credit: Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is praising the rebalanced state budget that the legislature delivered to her in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. But Gregoire also told reporters Thursday that she's concerned by the very slim cushion of reserves lawmakers left in the state treasury. She indicates she will selectively veto some proposed spending to keep more cash in reserve.

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Unmanned Aircraft
5:55 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Civilian Drones Preparing For Takeoff Regionally With Sheriffs

Prioria business development executive David Wright demonstrates the Maveric UAS.
Photo Credit: Tom Banse Northwest News Network

TACOMA, Wash. - Get ready to spot a new kind of "bird" in the sky. Within the next month, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to green light the use of small unmanned aircraft by emergency services. Some sheriffs' departments in the Northwest are showing interest in these aircraft.

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Washingtonian Hunts for Earhardt
4:43 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Wash. Forensic Analyst Aids Search For Amelia Earhart

A forensic imaging specialist from Woodinville, Washington is lending his analytic skills to the latest search for the pioneer aviator Amelia Earhart. This analyst discovered a possible upturned landing gear in a historic photo of a tropical atoll. A two million dollar expedition to that South Pacific location takes place this summer.

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Olympic Track&Field Trials
4:21 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Olympic Track And Field Trials In Eugene Expected To Sell Out

Hayward Field in Eugene is the site of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.
Photo credit: Wolfram Burner/ Flickr Northwest News Network

PORTLAND – Organizers of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials say they’re on track for a sellout for the eight day event in Eugene. Single day event tickets go on sale Friday morning. University of Oregon associate athletic director Vin Lananna predicts they’ll disappear fast.

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Wolf Poaching
5:38 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Wash. Hunter Pleads Guilty To Wolf Poaching Conspiracy

Yearling wolf from the Lookout Pack in Okanogan County
Photo courtesy of Conservation Northwest

TWISP, Wash. -- A Twisp, Washington man has changed his plea to guilty in a high-profile federal wolf poaching case. As part of a plea agreement, the 62-year-old man will not go to prison. The lack of jail time greatly disappoints a conservation group. Correspondent Tom Banse has more on the story.

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Unemployment Benefits Shortened
5:09 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Extended Unemployment Benefits Ending In Wash. & Oregon

Federal Unemployment Rate 2002-2012
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Thousands of long-term unemployed workers in Washington and Oregon will no longer receive unemployment checks soon. The federal government won't pay for extended benefits anymore because the jobless rates have improved in both states.

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Small Fish
4:52 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Panel Recommends Harvest Cutbacks On Small, Schooling Fish

An international research panel recommends cutting in half the global harvest of small, schooling fish like sardines, anchovy and herring.

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