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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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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A Whale Of A Time Underwater
11:03 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Whales' New Breath-Hold Record Like 'Flying From Seattle To San Jose' Without A Gasp

Satellite tag being attached to the dorsal fin of a Cuvier's beaked whale. The tagging arrow can be seen in the air as it detaches from the tag.
Erin Falcone Cascadia Research under NOAA permit 16111

Think about how long you can hold your breath, then consider this.

Northwest-based whale researchers have documented a new breath-hold record among mammals. They timed a dive by a beaked whale that lasted 2 hours and 17 minutes.

A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One by scientists with the Cascadia Research Collective of Olympia revealed two new records. The researchers tagged Cuvier's beaked whales, a rarely-seen species which forages in deep ocean waters worldwide, including off the U.S. West Coast.

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Natural Disaster
12:06 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Weather Working Against Deadly Landslide Responders

WSDOT

Heavy rain in Friday’s forecast threatens to hinder ongoing search and recovery operations at the side of the catastrophic mudslide near Oso.

Mother Nature is just not cooperating with the hundreds of searchers and heavy equipment operators at the scene of Saturday’s deadly landslide.

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Oso Slide
7:25 am
Fri March 28, 2014

At The Landslide Front Line, Comparisons To Mount St. Helens Devastation

Members of the Washington Air National Guard wade through mud and debris looking for signs of missing persons.
Spc. Matthew Sissel 122D PAOC Washington National Guard

A local fire chief is warning communities around the deadly landslide in northwest Washington to brace for a jump in the death toll Friday.

Meanwhile, fresh crews are rotating in to relieve exhausted first responders. Friday is the seventh day of the rescue and recovery mission at the place known in shorthand as “the pile.”

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