Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from 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 found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" 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.  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.

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 beyond the reach of email.

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Two Air National Guard reconnaissance planes were called in Wednesday by the National Interagency Fire Center to help detect and map wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. The twin engine, turboprop RC-26 aircraft will be temporarily based at Spokane's Fairchild Air Force Base and at Eugene's airport. In the near future, their assignment may be carried out by unmanned aircraft. 

A World War II veteran from the Inland Northwest traveled to a village in rural Japan Tuesday to personally return a "good luck flag" he picked up from the body of a fallen Japanese soldier on the Pacific island of Saipan in the summer of 1944.

"Taking the flag kind of bothered me because it is so special,” said Marvin Strombo, 93.

With hordes of eclipse chasers expected to pull out their phones to share the memorable experience next week, wireless carriers are deploying temporary mobile cell towers in Oregon and Idaho to boost capacity in the path of the solar eclipse.

The clock is ticking. We're just days away from the total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. But we'll learn sooner than that whether huge crowds cause traffic gridlock in the eclipse's path.

One central Oregon city is not taking any chances.

In the mid-19th century, Emily Washines' ancestors in the Yakama tribe fought the U.S. Army for four years in what became known as the Yakama—or Yakima—Indian War. She said few people in the Pacific Northwest today know much if anything about the bloody conflict.

The cluster of unmanned aircraft systems companies in the Columbia River Gorge led one online journal to dub the rural region east of Portland, "Dronetown, USA."

The state of Oregon forecasts up to 1 million people may pour in to watch the total solar eclipse on August 21. Emergency planners in central and eastern Oregon are hoping eclipse chasers will fill out a short online survey to help them staff up appropriately.

Haze And Record Heat Smoke The Northwest

Aug 3, 2017

  Our staff checks in from around the Northwest with tales of hazy days and record-breaking heat.

When a massive tsunami hit the northeast coast of Japan in 2011, waves of water overtopped sea walls, swallowed buildings and surged higher than anticipated. One thing those images prompted was a reexamination of the tsunami risk in the Pacific Northwest.

With an assist from Microsoft, Washington state’s Department of Transportation has launched a feasibility study of bullet train service in Cascadia.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Seattle raised strong objections Tuesday at a Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., about e-commerce taxation.

Olympic National Park is inching ahead on a plan to reduce or eliminate its population of non-native mountain goats. A draft plan released Monday for public comment includes options to relocate or kill the animals.

If you liked the warm, dry start to our Northwest summer, you'll probably like the rest of it. There's no change to the dominant weather pattern in sight.

Texting or holding a phone to your ear while driving is already illegal in Washington state. But starting Sunday, Washington state troopers and local police will begin enforcing a toughened law against distracted driving.

The statewide unemployment rate for Washington is holding at its record low in the latest jobs report out Wednesday. The state's Employment Security Department pegged the jobless rate in June at 4.5 percent, the same as in May.


An archaeologist from Eugene has just returned from an expedition to an uninhabited South Pacific island with new clues about the possible fate of Amelia Earhart. The pioneer aviator and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared 80 years ago—creating an enduring mystery and fascination.

When you were younger, do you remember there being a piano store in your neighborhood or at the mall? There are many fewer piano dealers today than there used to be. Those who weren't done in by cheaper electronic keyboards or the last recession are changing their tunes to stay in the money.

A Richland, Washington, flower shop owner who was on the losing end of a same-sex wedding discrimination case now wants to piggyback on an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court argument.

Heavily armed police officers found no evidence Wednesday morning of an active shooter on the Washington State Capitol Campus following a report of suspicious noises that sounded like gunshots. 

The entire campus in Olympia was put on lockdown at approximately 9:30 a.m. while officers armed with rifles searched a pair of buildings on the east campus that house the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Social and Health Services.

Fewer than one in five homeowners in the West carry earthquake insurance, according to an insurance industry survey. That would set back our region's recovery if the Big One were to hit tomorrow.

Now both Oregon and Washington state are looking to California for a possible solution to get their numbers up.

For the first time since 1983, there will be no statewide initiatives on the November ballot in Washington state. More than 30 initiatives to the people had been filed in Washington since January.

Friday was the deadline to turn in qualifying signatures.

Online shoppers in Washington state may soon have to pay sales tax on out-of-state e-commerce purchases. Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday is expected to sign a package of tax increases just approved by the state legislature to balance the next two-year budget.

But the internet sales tax seems likely to be challenged in court.

As campaign slogans go, it was a good one: "Keep Zombies in Washington."

And it worked in the end. The Washington Legislature late Friday voted to renew the state's film production tax breaks.

If you think trying to carry on a conversation in a noisy restaurant or bar is difficult, imagine how whales in the noisy waters of the Salish Sea feel.

Evergreen State College President George Bridges said he'll be seeking state assistance to add more training, equipment and staff for campus security. Student unrest and outside threats caused repeated disruptions during the recently ended spring term on the Olympia campus.

Law enforcement prepared for protesters and counterprotesters on the Evergreen State College campus in Olympia, Washington, Thursday afternoon—the day before this year's graduation ceremony.

If you give blood, usually it goes into a plastic bag in a fridge until someone needs it. But when you’re deep in the countryside or tundra or out at sea, there’s no hospital—and no blood bank.

Now that it's legal in Washington state, a handful of farmers and the Colville tribe have submitted applications to grow industrial hemp. On Tuesday, Moses Lake will be the scene of a "first planting" demonstration of the non-drug cousin of marijuana.

Friday classes have been canceled at The Evergreen State College, making for two days of missed education after the campus near Olympia was abruptly closed and swarmed by police due to a telephoned threat.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday ordered a second 30-day overtime session of the state legislature. It began immediately after the adjournment of the first special session.

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