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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Washington's Economy
3:36 pm
Tue March 15, 2011

State's jobless rate drops slightly

A few more of us are finding work, according to the latest employment figures released by the state's Employment Security Department on Tuesday. This woman is looking for opportunities at a job fair in Seattle.
AP

Unemployment ticked downward in Washington state in February as hiring picked up. The changes were small, but the job market seems to have “turned the corner,” according to the State's Employment Security department. 

Washington's chief labor economist Dave Wallace, spoke about the fresh data released Tuesday. Wallace says the hard-hit construction industry showed surprisingly strong gains regionally and nationally:

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Business
3:25 pm
Tue March 15, 2011

Ailing retailer Harry & David expected to survive, but shrink

A Harry & David retail store.
Tom Banse N3

One of the best known Northwest brands is on the verge of bond default or bankruptcy according to financial analysts. Gourmet food retailer Harry & David is one of the biggest employers in southern Oregon. It also has a network of anxious suppliers around the region.

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Japan Quake
2:00 pm
Fri March 11, 2011

Tsunami waves not visible to the eye on coast

Tidal gauges detected a tsunami wave along the Washington and Oregon coasts Friday morning. But the swell, up to 1.5 feet, went unnoticed by coastal residents who chose not to evacuate.

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Army Investigation
9:00 am
Wed March 9, 2011

Army probe finds no deliberate mistreatment of Oregon Guard troops

"Very disappointing." That's how Oregon Senator Ron Wyden describes a series of Army investigations into the treatment of injured Oregon National Guard soldiers last year. Those inquires conclude the Oregon troops were not treated as second class soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

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Shark Fin Soup
10:51 am
Tue March 8, 2011

Lawmakers want to take shark fin soup off menus

West Coast lawmakers want to take shark fin soup off restaurant menus. The Washington, Oregon and California Legislatures are all considering measures to criminalize the trade in shark fins.

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Cleaner Energy
7:50 am
Mon March 7, 2011

Northwest’s largest coal-fired power plant agrees to shut down by 2025

The owner of the largest coal-fired power plant in the Northwest has agreed to phase out coal-burning by the end of 2025.

Washington’s governor and environmental groups announced an agreement with TransAlta Corporation Saturday. Within hours, the Washington State Senate passed a bill to turn the deal into law.

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Environment
8:47 am
Thu March 3, 2011

Wolverines stage comeback in Northwest, but for how long?

Remote camera photo of a wolverine from Okanogan National Forest. Click on the photo to scroll through other pictures of the
USFS

One of the rarest mammals in North America is staging a comeback here in the Northwest. Wildlife biologists have tracked wolverines on mountainsides where they haven't been seen in many decades. But several new studies also suggest the recovery could be short lived if mountain snowlines retreat due to global warming.

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Environment
2:15 pm
Wed February 23, 2011

Electric car study volunteers get home charging stations

A Nissan Leaf
Tom Banse N3

Starting this week, the first of roughly 900 electric car owners in the Northwest will each have a free charging station built into their garages. The deal comes with a catch though.

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Environment
7:27 am
Tue February 22, 2011

Study: more arid future for Northwest?

Map of Castor Lake.
Google Maps

A remarkable piece of scientific detective work has constructed a 6,000 year climate history of the Pacific Northwest. The record reveals a pattern of drought cycles and wet cycles.

Researchers drilled into the sediments at the bottom of Castor Lake near Omak, Washington. It's a telltale lake because with no river running out of it rainfall and evaporation rule there.

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Law
3:12 pm
Thu January 27, 2011

Red light camera ballot challenges spread across state

A red light camera on the job in Oregon.
Kristian Foden-Vencil OPB

Irate drivers in four Washington cities are filing ballot initiative paperwork this week to unplug automated traffic enforcement cameras.

So far, driver rebellions have ignited in Longview, Bellingham, Monroe and Wenatchee. Signature drives have started in those cities to unplug their red light cameras. Professional initiative promoter Tim Eyman is involved in all four of the nascent municipal campaigns.

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Environment
1:46 pm
Tue January 25, 2011

UW scientist captures strange song of cracking iceberg

Iceberg B-15A was 76 miles long and 17 miles wide
Josh Landis National Science Foundation

If an iceberg cracks in Antarctica and no one's there to hear it, does it make a sound? Now we know the answer is, in fact, yes.

A University of Washington oceanographer has released a recording of the breakup of one of the largest icebergs ever observed in Antarctica.

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MLK Parade Scare
7:25 am
Wed January 19, 2011

Spokane backpack bomb 'unusually sophisticated'

"FBI evidence photo of backpack found on a downtown Spokane street corner bench
FBI

The FBI says a backpack bomb found along the Martin Luther King Day parade route in Spokane could have hurt many people. A bomb disposal unit safely defused the device Monday. Now the federal government has enlisted a joint terrorism task force to track down the would-be bomber.

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Telephone Merger
3:47 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Telephone company merger generates little static

The Qwest company logo adorns the side of a repair truck. CenturyLink appears likely to gain cleareance to take over Qwest.
David Zalubowski AP Photo

The merger of two of our region’s biggest telephone companies is generating relatively little static. CenturyLink appears likely to get regulatory clearance soon to take over Qwest Communications. But the merger comes with conditions.

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Coal Terminal
6:10 pm
Tue January 4, 2011

Montana governor presses state to okay coal shipments

The coal export terminal would utilize the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter property in Longview, WA
Tom Banse N3

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is trying to clear the way for coal exports through the Pacific Northwest. He’s worried Washington state will block a proposed Columbia River shipping terminal for Montana and Wyoming coal. Schweitzer is making a hastily scheduled trip to southwest Washington Wednesday.

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Law
6:38 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

Tax hikes take effect in Washington January 1st

In the new year, Washington state is raising taxes. But you'll need sharp eyes to notice where.  Lawmakers have hiked and expanded a telephone tax to support 911 service.

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