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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Better Baseball Bat?
11:00 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Axe Bat Wins Converts, But Has To Overcome Baseball Traditionalists

Axe Bat on top versus traditional bat at bottom.
Tom Banse

A family-owned sporting goods company in suburban Seattle is confronting the tension between honoring tradition and embracing innovation in the sport of baseball.

The company is going to market with what it calls a "better" baseball bat.

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Volcanic Activity
10:02 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Magma Rising Beneath Mount St. Helens, But No Eruption Imminent

File image
Don Ryan AP Photo

Scientists monitoring Mount St. Helens confirmed Wednesday that magma is on the rise and "re-pressurizing" the volcano in southwest Washington.

However, they also stress there are no signs of an imminent eruption.

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Rewinding Time
5:00 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Japanese Retrace Path of History-Making Castaways To Wash. Coast, 180 Years Later

Japanese Boy Scouts donated this replica of the ill-fated junk to the Makah Museum.
Courtesy of Friends of MacDonald

It’s not too late to say thank you, even after 180 years. That’s what a Japanese delegation did last week as it retraced the history-making path of three castaways to the Makah Indian Reservation on the Washington coast.

The story starts when a typhoon disabled a coastal trading vessel off central Japan. Three survivors drifted all the way across the Pacific Ocean until their boat wrecked on the Olympic Peninsula coast in early 1834. That made them the first Japanese to set foot in the Pacific Northwest.

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Business
2:25 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Alaska Air CEO 'Confident' As Delta Spreads Wings On Home Turf

Ted S. Warren AP Photo

The parent company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air announced strong earnings for the first quarter of the year on Friday.

The airline group's CEO said he expects good results for the rest of 2014 as well, notwithstanding growing competition from Delta Air Lines on Alaska's home turf. Delta is dramatically ramping up its Seattle operations to build a new hub city oriented toward the Pacific Rim. 

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Northwest Salmon
9:59 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Tribes Optimistic About Returning Salmon To Upper Columbia Basin

A tribal fisherman hauls in a salmon with a gill-net Wednesday,, Sept. 7, 2011, along the Columbia River, near Hood River, Ore.
Rick Bowmer AP Photo

Hydropower dams built without fish ladders have blocked migratory fish from the upper reaches of the Columbia and Snake Rivers for decades. Tribal leaders from across the region gathered this week in Portland to strategize how to return salmon to their full historic range.

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Oil Trains
2:03 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Wash. State Sen. Ericksen: Controversial Oil Trains 'Going To Be With Us For A While'

AP Photo

Washington state environmental regulators are expecting a lively crowd in the coastal city of Hoquiam on Thursday when the public will get a chance to weigh in about increased crude oil train traffic. But one powerful state senator says the controversial oil trains are needed.

Developers are proposing side-by-side marine terminal expansions on Grays Harbor along the Washington coast. They would receive crude oil by rail from the Northern Plains and send it out by barge and tanker to West Coast refineries.

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Salmon vs. Sea Lions
11:49 am
Sat April 19, 2014

First Nuisance Sea Lions Of 2014 Killed At Bonneville Dam

This file photo shows a California sea lion consuming a salmon just below the Columbia River's Bonneville Dam.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

 

State wildlife officers trapped and killed six salmon-chomping sea lions at Bonneville Dam earlier this week.

It's part of a renewed campaign against nuisance predators who follow the spring salmon run.

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Oso Slide
2:30 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Flags Lowered Statewide For One Week To Honor Landslide Victims

Tom Banse Flags fly at half mast in front of Washington state Capitol.

Flags will fly at half-mast across Washington state until next Tuesday to honor the victims of last month's deadly landslide. Earlier Tuesday, the Snohomish County medical examiner raised the death toll by one to 37. Seven others remain missing.

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Wildfire Season
12:16 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

It's Now Officially Wildfire Season In Wash.

File image
InciWeb

 

Wildfire season officially starts on April 15 in Washington state. Oregon and Idaho have rolling starts to fire precaution rules, depending on local conditions.

Fire managers are looking ahead to a fairly "normal" wildfire season in Idaho and Washington this year. Drought-ridden central and southern Oregon though are classified at higher risk.

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Ski Season
12:18 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Extended Season For Some Northwest Ski Areas, But Profits Scarce

Notice the brown hills around Sun Valley in this Dec. 29, 2013 file photo. Snowmaking allowed the famous resort to operate during the crucial holiday period.
Tom Banse

Thanks to late-season snow that fell in many areas, some Cascade ski areas will welcome skiers and snowboarders well past Easter.

There will be end-of-season parties at at least nine Northwest ski resorts this weekend. Timing means everything for the bottom line of these resort companies. But a strong finish doesn't necessarily make up for a late start like we saw this season.

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Water Forecast
2:22 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Water Supply Rebounds Across Most Of Northwest After March Storms

On this map of current snow conditions, blues and greens are good. Red, orange and yellow represent below-average snowpack.
NWRFC

Irrigators, hydropower dam operators and tugboat captains are sitting pretty across most of the Northwest, according to the latest regional water supply forecast presented Thursday.

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Northwest Salmon
8:40 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

New Quotas Clear Way For Banner Summer Salmon Fishing In Pacific Ocean

Andrew Russell Flickr

A federal fisheries management panel approved what some charter captains are calling the best ocean fishing season in 20 years.

Meeting at a hotel in Vancouver, Washington, the Pacific Fishery Management Council on Wednesday adopted the 2014 season quotas unanimously after days of lengthy negotiations between commercial troll and recreational fishing representatives, treaty tribes and government regulators.

The quotas are a big turnaround from the recent past when ocean salmon fishing was sharply curtailed or not allowed at all.

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Oso Slide
5:15 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Inslee Happy With Federal Aid For Landslide, But Says It Won't 'Make People Whole'

Searchers work with heavy equipment near the edge of a deadly mudslide, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Oso, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says he's pleased with the federal disaster relief flowing to the state for last month's deadly landslide in Snohomish County. But during an interview with public radio Wednesday, Inslee said the arrival of the Federal Emergency Management Agency aid does not replace private charity.

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Cyber-Currency
11:27 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Central Wash. Home To Nation's Biggest Bitcoin Mine, More Coming

MegaBigPower CEO Dave Carlson inside North America's biggest bitcoin mine.
Tom Banse

Here's a surprising fact: the largest bitcoin mine in North America is located on the outskirts of Wenatchee, Washington.

It's not a mine in the traditional sense. In these mines, you won't have helmets, lamps or pickaxes, and there's no danger of cave in. In this case, the mine consists of two warehouses that have been converted into a data center.

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Measles Outbreak
3:21 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Measles Outbreak In B.C. Crosses Into U.S.

A big measles outbreak in British Columbia has crossed over the border into the American Northwest.

Health officers in B.C.'s Fraser Valley southeast of Vancouver have confirmed more than 350 cases of measles there since an outbreak started in early March. Six additional cases have now been diagnosed in Washington’s Whatcom County.

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