Tom Banse

Regional Reporter

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" 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 beyond the reach of email.

The preliminary investigation of a deadly wildfire in August gives a detailed account of how three Forest Service firefighters met their deaths near Twisp, Washington.

If you want to go to college to learn how to design, build, fly or fix a drone, your time has come. Many institutions of higher learning around the Northwest are recognizing that unmanned aircraft could become a key technology of the future.

A photographer from Wenatchee, Washington, has made a revealing discovery at the scene of a remote and long-abandoned fire lookout: a pile of very old firewood.

A South Puget Sound tribe is planning a grand opening at 4:20 p.m. on Thursday for what it believes is the nation's first marijuana store on a reservation.

Bellingham, Washington-based Haggen mushroomed in size at the beginning of 2015 by acquiring 146 grocery stores across the West from Boise-based Albertsons and Safeway. Those two chains had to unload stores to gain federal approval to merge.

According to an industry trade group, sales of alternatives to modern wheat are growing at double-digit annual rates.

Thousands of federal inmates were sent home Friday after their drug sentences were shortened. That includes dozens of convicts from the Northwest.

The Boeing Company's unmanned aircraft subsidiary based in the Columbia River Gorge passed a milestone this week in commercializing drone technology.

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has fallen to worst among the U.S. mainline carriers for mishandled bags. Fortunately for Northwest travelers, the unhappy distinction may be short-lived.

The Federal Communications Commission is trying to consolidate broadcast TV spectrum in order to free up more bandwidth for wireless data transmission. The initial bids to buy back the airwaves used by some Northwest TV stations reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

Killer whale biologists used a hexacopter drone last month to capture stunning, overhead photos of every single member of the endangered Puget Sound orca population.

More than 1.5 million Northwesterners signed up to take part in this year's "Great ShakeOut" on Thursday morning. While "drop, cover and hold" is part of the annual earthquake safety drill everywhere, some coastal schools and offices followed up with tsunami evacuation practice.

A surgeon at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said the serious burns to five electricians and dam operators injured in Thursday’s explosion at Priest Rapids Dam in central Washington are consistent with "arc flash."

Commercial imports of elephant ivory have been banned by federal and international law for decades. But now wildlife activists are pressing West Coast states to pass their own laws to deter the poaching of elephants and rhinos.

Plant breeders, Northwest chefs and farmers are co-developing innovative new vegetables and grains. The bounty was sampled a tasting party in Portland Monday night.

The state employment departments in Oregon and Washington are organizing 'rapid response' teams to help nearly 1,000 grocery workers facing mass layoff.

Software giant Microsoft had several chances Wednesday to impress Chinese leaders with the company's vision of a "free and open" Internet.


Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with titans of Northwest commerce Tuesday and Wednesday on their home turf: Think Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft and Amazon.

Over the weekend, vampires were afoot in a small town on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Fans of a bestselling teen vampire romance series flooded into the town of Forks from all over the country.

Three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a rock-throwing man in Pasco, Washington, last February will not face criminal charges.