Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse, KPLU’s and N3’s Regional Correspondent, roves the Northwest to report on broad themes and telling details. His topics run the gamut from business to the environment and human interest. Home base is in Olympia, a legacy of a previously held state government beat from 1991-2003. Although he grew up in Seattle, Tom's radio career began by chance in Minnesota at Carleton College’s student radio station. Tom's memorable moment in public radio: "I am indebted to many people for tips and tutelage, but certainly some of the bluntest -- at times unprintable -- guidance came from NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg. I interned at NPR in 1989 and was privileged to keep Nina's chair warm at the U-S Supreme Court or at the high-octane Iran-Contra trial of Oliver North, wherever she wasn't at the time. Heady stuff for a tenderfoot reporter."

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Environment
9:09 am
Fri July 8, 2011

Marlin, blue fin tuna could become regulars in Northwest waters

Shannon Hunter of Newport holds an opah caught last summer on the charter vessel "Misty." Opah is tasty fish normally found in Hawaiian waters.
Courtesy of Robert Waddell

NEWPORT, Ore. – Climate change may push fish native to the Northwest coast further northward and bring fish from southern waters up here.

That's according to a forthcoming study by American and Canadian fisheries biologists. They suggest West Coast fishermen will need to adapt to different prey if the Pacific Ocean warms as projected over the next fifty years.

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Business
8:40 am
Fri July 8, 2011

Deal suspends chicken cage ballot measures

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Animal welfare groups in Oregon and Washington are shelving initiative petition drives that could have required egg producers to give hens more spacious cages.

The Humane Society of the United States says it's hatched a surprise national agreement with the egg industry for the treatment of chickens on farms. This comes as a ballot measure drive in Oregon for the 2012 election was getting started.

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Archeology
8:25 am
Mon July 4, 2011

Fixer-upper in the Dalles yields valuable Chinese artifacts

Excavation pits were jack hammered through asphalt and concrete
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

THE DALLES, Ore. – A fixer-upper is paying unexpected dividends for a couple in The Dalles, Oregon.

The back parking lot of the old building they bought as an investment is yielding artifacts that give rare insight into the lives of pioneer Chinese immigrants in the Northwest.

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Recreation
11:58 am
Fri June 17, 2011

Hunting and fishing on the rise in bad economy

Sport fishermen cast into the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Are more people hunting and fishing for food during these tough economic times? Possibly. However, the recent upturn in the number of people buying a hunting and fishing license is probably due to unemployed construction workers with more time on their hands, one department official said.

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Environment
3:10 pm
Thu June 16, 2011

Invasive eelgrass doesn't follow the usual invader's script

Japanese eelgrass smothered Willapa Bay clam beds in September 2010.
Dr. Kim Patten WSU Extension

WILLAPA BAY, Wash. – The usual story of invasive species goes something like this: An exotic plant or critter hitches a ride on an incoming cargo ship. Alarm bells go off. An eradication campaign starts. But now there's a non-native seaweed on the West Coast that breaks the mold. Japanese eelgrass has defenders along with its critics.

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Business
4:10 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Rent your car to a stranger?

Portlander Eric Loebel hopes to rent out his Volvo S80 through a car sharing service.
Colin Fogarty Northwest News Network

Your car may be your most-prized personal possession, but the vast majority of the time it's parked not doing anything. Now, several startup companies propose to help you capitalize on your car's downtime by renting it to perfect strangers.

Following the example set by California last year, the Oregon Legislature is set to tweak its insurance rules to smooth the road for person-to-person car rentals. One company already has hundreds of registered users across the Pacific Northwest, even though the service has not officially launched in that region. And, another company plans to include Washington state this summer.

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Environment
10:00 am
Fri June 3, 2011

Bainbridge Island tries peer pressure to save energy

The inspiration for the energy use street painting came from Brighton, UK, where it looked like this.
Courtesy The Tidy Street Project.

Starting this weekend, residents of two neighborhoods on Bainbridge Island will get an in-your-face reminder of how much energy they’re using. Bainbridge is one of three Northwest cities to receive a federal grant to do aggressive energy efficiency outreach.

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Environment
9:30 am
Wed June 1, 2011

Turbines to shut down for good at doomed Elwha dams

The 108-foot tall Elwha Dam was built without fish ladders.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Nearly 100 years of hydropower production comes to a close today (Wednesday) on the Elwha River on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. The turbines at the two dams on the river are going off line for good in preparation for the biggest dam removal in North American history.

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2010 Census
4:00 am
Mon May 30, 2011

Idaho more youthful, Oregon grayer than national median age

U.S. Census Bureau

The American West is home to more young people than any other region of the country according to new data from the U.S. Census. Still there are differences in the age demographics within our region.

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Other News
11:00 am
Tue May 24, 2011

High gas prices make road bumpy for Meals on Wheels program

Meals on Wheels Association of America Lindsay Garrett

Gas prices in Washington and across the Northwest are inching downward again after peaking above $4 a gallon earlier this month. The trend comes too late to erase the blow delivered to Meals on Wheels programs around the region.

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MARINE LIFE AND NOISE POLLUTION
8:45 am
Tue May 24, 2011

Turning down the volume underwater

A U.S. Navy ship, a fishing vessel and a whale-watching boat with a group of orcas in the foreground.
Ken Balcomb Center for Whale Research

Ferries, freighters and whale-watching boats are part of the tableau that makes the Pacific Northwest postcard pretty and tourist friendly. But all that marine activity creates cacophony underwater.

This month in Victoria and Seattle, separate groups of scientists are sharing their observations that the ocean is getting noisier. And now, conservationists and shippers are also talking about how to dial down the volume.

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Northwest History
7:28 am
Thu May 19, 2011

Astoria celebrates bicentennial with look back to 1811

Clatsop County Historical Society executive director McAndrew “Mac” Burns visits the site where Astoria was founded in 1811.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Quick, name the oldest city in the Northwest.

You get a gold star if you answered Astoria, Oregon. It is named for wealthy fur trader John Jacob Astor. The settlement at the mouth of the Columbia River celebrates its bicentennial this year. The official kickoff is this weekend [May 20-22].  KPLU's Tom Banse reports Astoria's founding has left legacies that span the whole Northwest.

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Environment
9:19 am
Mon May 16, 2011

New rules to distance boats from endangered orcas start today

Going on a whale watching tour is a popular activity in the border waters between Washington State and British Columbia. New rules that take effect  Monday require vessels to give a wider berth to the iconic resident killer whales. KPLU's Tom Banse reports from one of the home ports of the whale watching fleet, in Victoria.

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MILITARY AND DEFENSE
1:25 pm
Thu May 12, 2011

Army fancies unfinished nuclear plant for training

Soldiers practice decontamination protocol after a training scenario inside the nuclear reactor building at Satsop. Courtesy Satsop Business Park
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

The quest to find new uses for an uncompleted nuclear power plant in western Washington has a new twist. The U.S. Army has taken a liking to training soldiers in the tunnels, plazas and towers of the old Satsop complex.

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OSAMA BIN LADEN
9:41 am
Thu May 5, 2011

NW pilots praised for unconfirmed role in bin Laden mission

The U.S. Army’s “Night Stalkers” fly specially modified Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.
US Navy Chief Intelligence Specialist Louis Fellerman

Washington state senators Wednesday praised Northwest chopper pilots for flying a celebrated mission that no one can confirm they were on. That would be the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.

This much we know: Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma is home to a battalion of the U.S. Army's "Night Stalkers." That's an elite helicopter unit that flies commando and combat rescue missions.

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