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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There will be free admission to all national parks from Thursday through Sunday to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. President Woodrow Wilson signed the law creating the National Park Service on August 25, 1916.

Oregon's Ashton Eaton successfully defended his Olympic decathlon title Thursday night at the Summer Games in Rio. Eaton stayed on top of the leader board for nearly all of the two-day, ten event test of speed, strength and stamina.

Washington state's above-average unemployment rate hasn't budged since last December. For July, the state’s Department of Employment Security Wednesday again pegged it at 5.8 percent.

There were medals a-plenty for Northwest athletes competing at the Summer Olympics in Brazil this weekend. One runner from Portland missed out on the podium in a dramatic race, but got kudos afterwards for sportsmanship.

A bipartisan coalition of Western U.S. lawmakers has renewed a call to change how the federal government pays to put out big forest fires. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management divert money from fire prevention and other programs to pay firefighting costs during bad fire years.

A popular getaway destination for Northwest outdoor enthusiasts should be under new ownership by this winter. British Columbia's Whistler Blackcomb ski resort has agreed to a friendly takeover by Colorado-based Vail Resorts.

During the decade before the U.S. Civil War, a different conflict made a big impact on the future of the Oregon Territory. It's known as the Rogue River Indian War. But unlike the Civil War battlefields in the eastern U.S. or American South that receive hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, you’ll be hard pressed to tour -- or even find -- those battlefields.

Flashy Brazilian music and dance is likely to light up your TV screen Friday night when the Olympic cauldron is lit to officially launch the Summer Games. But a lot of the Olympic athletes from the Northwest are skipping the Opening Ceremony in Rio.

National parks will offer free admission on the final weekend of August in honor of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. Before then, the park service centennial is being celebrated with music.

California, Oregon and Washington state have lofty goals for increasing the number of non-polluting vehicles on the road. To achieve those goals, you and your neighbors will need to buy electric cars at a higher rate that we're seeing now.

Hundreds of electric car enthusiasts and policymakers gathered this week in Portland to weigh how to accelerate consumer demand.

Stockholders in Virgin America have approved the acquisition of their airline by Alaska Airlines. The chairman of Virgin America announced the voting results at a brief shareholders meeting Tuesday.

Bet you didn't know people can bet on the outcome of the presidential election via the lottery. Not our lottery mind you, but the one in British Columbia.

Alaska Airlines' proposed takeover of rival Virgin America remains on course pending federal approval expected late this year. That's according to Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden. Tilden told Wall Street analysts Thursday that he's still undecided about whether to keep the Virgin America brand alive after the acquisition goes through.

Some players in an emerging technology industry in central Washington state are about to face higher electric bills. That’s because a major utility wants to protect itself from the uncertainties surrounding the trade in virtual currencies such as bitcoin.

Earth movers are beginning to move dirt for a better runway at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport on the Idaho-Washington border. Construction work has begun even though difficult negotiations to acquire needed land under the new runway's approach are not concluded.

At the crowded start of the men's 5000-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials last weekend, the elite runners at the line mostly wore the brightly-colored uniforms of their shoe company sponsors.

But there was also a pair of slender guys in beige, black and camouflage with the word "Army" in big block letters across their chests.

Six players from the women's pro soccer teams in Seattle and Portland were named Tuesday to the U.S. Olympic Team for the Summer Games in Brazil. Seattle Reign goalkeeper Hope Solo and midfielder Megan Rapinoe got the nod, along with Portland Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg and midfielders Lindsey Horan, Allie Long and Tobin Heath.

It was clear once again that the Northwest is a hotbed for elite running on the final day of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials in Eugene Sunday. Oregon and Washington were well represented in many of the race line-ups. And the same can be said of the U.S. track and field team as a whole.

Close to one-quarter of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team heading to Brazil next month -- 28 runners and throwers -- have Northwest connections.

Art meets real life on so many levels at the Northwest premiere Tuesday of a new movie. "Tracktown" is set in Eugene, Oregon, the city now emblazoned with Tracktown USA banners. The movie tells the story of a young Olympic hopeful -- convincingly played by an actual Olympic hopeful.

A bunch of world-class golfers and some men's U.S. basketball team nominees have announced they'll skip the Rio Olympics. Concerns about contracting the Zika virus are the most common excuse. By contrast, American track and field athletes seem eager to make the U.S. team for Brazil.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae signed a Memorandum of Cooperation Tuesday to strengthen trade between the Evergreen State and Japan.

In a surprise move, sportswear giant Nike has withdrawn a contract enforcement lawsuit against U.S. track and field star Boris Berian.

Routine operation of small drones for commercial or civilian purposes have clearance for takeoff. The Federal Aviation Administration Tuesday finalized rules to replace the previous case-by-case assessment of drone uses.

An inventory by public radio of Northwest geography found more than 200 places with names some people might consider ethnically or racially offensive. For instance, there's Negro Ben Mountain in southwest Oregon, Chinamans Hat in western Idaho, Jew Valley in southern Oregon and Redman Creek in north central Washington.

The statewide unemployment rate in Washington is not budging despite steady hiring by employers. It's stuck at 5.8 percent in the latest monthly jobs report released Wednesday by the Washington Employment Security Department.

One of just a handful of American distance runners picked as likely to medal this summer at the Olympic Games is transplanted Northwesterner Evan Jager. His success in the steeplechase could draw new converts to this entertaining but slightly obscure track and field event.

In fact, Beaverton, Oregon, has already quietly become a hub of world-class steeplechasers.

Boats have to stay 200 yards away from the Northwest’s endangered resident killer whales. But what if one of those boaters launches an aerial drone to take better pictures from closer up?

It's not a theoretical question. And the answer is not as clear as law enforcement would like.

The Warrenton-Hammond School Board on the northwest Oregon Coast voted unanimously Tuesday night to remove Native American symbolism from its school mascots. The Warrenton Grade School Braves will get a name change and the high school’s "Warriors" logo will be redesigned.

A new environmental nonprofit is scouting the Pacific Northwest coast for a suitable cove or bay to establish a refuge for retired captive orca and beluga whales.

The board and staff of the new outfit, called The Whale Sanctuary Project, includes a number of people who helped return Keiko, the star of the Free Willy movie, to Icelandic waters from Newport, Oregon.

A frenzy of last minute bidding on eBay Thursday produced a nice payday for two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds of Seattle.

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