Tom Banse

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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NPR Story
3:57 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.

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 9:54 am

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

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NPR Story
4:37 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Long-Range Forecast Calls For Warmer, Drier Winter

The long-range weather outlook from the Climate Prediction Center gives high probabilities for a warmer and drier than average winter across the Northwest.

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NPR Story
10:32 am
Fri October 17, 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.

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 11:22 am

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

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NPR Story
4:19 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Job Growth Stalls In Washington And Oregon During September

The unemployment rate in Washington rose one-tenth of a point to 5.7 percent in September.

Job growth stalled during September in Oregon and Washington according to new numbers from the respective state employment departments.

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NPR Story
5:20 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Washington State Police Push Back Against Limits On Drones

File photo of a drone hovering over a park in Wilsonville, Oregon.

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 Governor Jay Inslee wrestled some more Monday about how to regulate small unmanned aircraft.

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Environment
6:22 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Cross-time Photos From Northwest Lookouts Reveal Big Changes

John Marshall photographs the Cascade Creek burn on the slopes of Mount Adams.

Originally published on Sat October 11, 2014 12:42 pm

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.

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NPR Story
4:34 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

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

File photo of a ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle made by Insitu Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing.

Managers at Insitu, a military drone maker headquartered in Bingen, Washington, say they see great potential for civil and commercial uses for their best known aircraft.

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NPR Story
3:50 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.

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.

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NPR Story
6:43 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Oregon, Washington Hope To Use Drones For Wildfire Recon In 2015

File photo of a ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle

Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 10:12 pm

Both Oregon and Washington’s state forestry departments had hoped to try out drones this summer to provide reconnaissance at wildfire scenes. But neither firefighting agency managed to pull it off. Now both plan to try again next year.

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NPR Story
4:32 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Eastern Oregon Drone Test Range Chalks Up First Flight

First test flight on Pendleton UAS range utilized an Aeryon Scout quadcopter

A drone test range in northeastern Oregon launched its first flight Tuesday.

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NPR Story
5:12 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

'If You Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em' Say Diners Noshing On Invasive Species

Crayfish stuffed piquillo pepper, sorrel smoked salmon puff, wild turkey terrine with blackberry mustard, dandelion spanakopita and wild board bratwurst.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 3:10 pm

It may be difficult to eat our way out of the invasive species problem, but it can be satisfying to try.

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NPR Story
10:17 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Cannon Beach 5K Injects Fun Into Tsunami Readiness

Runners set off from the beach during the inaugural "Race the Wave" 5K fun run/walk.

People along the Oregon Coast ran for their lives on Sunday to escape an imaginary tsunami.

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NPR Story
6:00 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.
Cassandra Profita OPB

Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 9:13 am

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

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NPR Story
9:17 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Alaska Airlines Schedules More Rescue Flights From Mexico

Passengers board an Alaska Airlines jet on the hurricane-hit Baja Peninsula.

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines plans to launch five more jets Friday to evacuate American vacationers from Los Cabos, Mexico.

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NPR Story
5:49 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Marijuana Tax Collections Starting To Roll In, Millions More Expected

The first year of legal pot sales in Washington state is expected to generate about $25 million in fees and taxes.

In a manner of speaking, millions of dollars of "drug money" is starting to flow into Washington state coffers.

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NPR Story
3:58 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Alaska Airlines Launching Rescue Flights To Mexico

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

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is dispatching jets Thursday to evacuate American vacationers from Los Cabos, Mexico.

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NPR Story
4:11 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Unemployment Rate Holds Steady In August In Washington State

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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NPR Story
4:37 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Suspected Enterovirus Outbreak Widens In Northwest

Public health authorities in Washington and Idaho are now investigating at least 79 cases of a serious respiratory illness that affects children.

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NPR Story
6:09 pm
Fri September 12, 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

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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Wildfires
9:41 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Why Remotely Monitored Video Cameras Are Replacing Some Human Fire Lookouts In The West

These remotely-monitored cameras scan for forest fires from a historic fire lookout in Douglas County, Oregon.
Credit Courtesy of DFPA

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

A private non-profit called the Douglas Forest Protective Association was the first in the region to switch to remote camera fire detection. The southwest Oregon-based association deployed its first system in 2007.

The firefighting consortium's Kyle Reed said it has now replaced all of its manned fire lookouts with video cameras.

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