Kate Wells

Arts, Culture & Education Reporter/Producer

Kate Wells is an award-winning reporter covering cultural arts, education, and general news for Michigan Radio. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning EditionAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on WNYC, Harvest Public Media, KUT (Austin Public Radio) and in the Texas Tribune.

Kate got her start as an intern with New Hampshire Public Radio before heading out to the Midwest, where she covered the presidential caucuses for Iowa Public Radio and won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for investigative journalism. She joined Michigan Radio in 2012. Kate enjoys hiking, the Muppets, and cake in all forms.   

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Education
5:28 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Activists don't want another private charter school company running Muskegon Heights

Credit Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

If you've got a charter school management company and you'd like to run the chaotic, broke school district of Muskegon Heights, today is your last day to submit a bid.  

That's because the school system's emergency manager recently announced a mutual split with their previous contractor, a company called Mosaica Education.

Mosaica was losing money.

And it was getting a lot of flack for hiring teachers without proper certification (which earned the district state fines) and not delivering all the required special education services. 

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Economy
5:38 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Yes, Detroit is still shrinking, but much more slowly

Credit Shawn Wilson / Wikimedia Commons

Let's start with the good news from today's census numbers.

Michigan is growing overall, up to about 9.9 million people.

That's two straight years of growth for the state, a welcome uptick after seven years of declining population.

And some of that growth is in areas you might expect: Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and their suburbs.

Detroit itself, however, is still shrinking. It's down 10,000 people from the previous year, with just under 689,000 people now.

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Education
12:20 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Ads aimed at future students claim "Michigan has a rape problem"

Ads like this one appeared on Facebook.
Credit UltraViolet

"University of Michigan has a rape problem. Find out more before you decide."

"Accepted to University of Michigan? You should know about its rape problem."

Those are the Facebook and mobile ads seen recently by some prospective Michigan students and their parents.

They ran during the critical weeks when students have their acceptance letters and are deciding where to enroll.

“This is information a lot of colleges have been trying to hide.”

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Arts & Culture
1:15 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Childrens hospital uses art to help parents, patients

Zander, 15, had a brain tumor removed back in January. He's doing great now, and is raising money to put more art in the children's hospital.
Credit Kate Wells

You can hear the full story that aired on "Morning Edition" above.

Felicia McMillon and her husband are the kind of people who do not like hospitals. 

"My family, we really don’t do too well with hospitals,” she says, standing in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.

And that was before they gave birth to their first child, Elijah.

He was born a month early with an intestinal infection. He’s now in his fourth surgery.

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Education
7:32 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Lawsuit alleges U of M suspended innocent student for sexual assault

Now the school is being accused of going after alleged assailants without due process.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A University of Michigan student is suing the school over a sexual assault case, but this time, the student says the school took its investigation too far.

Drew Sterrett was a rising sophomore the summer of 2012, when he was accused of sexual assault.

He says the school suspended him until 2016, at least, without ever giving him a fair shot at defending himself.

There's no indication that there was ever a criminal complaint or investigation.

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Transportation
11:33 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Ann Arborites will pay for more buses

It was a landslide vote in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, through just 20,000 voters turned out.
Credit GsGeorge / WIKIMEDIA Commons

Ann Arbor stayed true to its reputation for being eco-loving and tax-friendly in today's vote to expand the local bus system.

Some 20,000 Ann Arborites went to the polls Tuesday, with 70% of them voting for more buses running expanded routes for longer hours. 

There's a price tag, of course: higher property taxes.

The millage will cost about $70 a year for a resident whose house is worth $200,000. 

Opponents of the expansion argued that this wasn't a smart move, given that housing in Ann Arbor isn't cheap to begin with.

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Arts & Culture
12:01 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Artpod on writers, good stories, and blind luck

Keillor talks with Michigan Radio about his new book.

Today on Artpod, we're talking with writers: how they stop being terrible and start being good.

How they start with their own weirdness and turn it into talent.

And how Midwest writers can take anything - learning how to make fudge or throwing tomatoes at their sister's butt - and turn it into a great story.  

First, we'll hear from Garrison Keillor, who's celebrating 40 years of "A Prairie Home Companion" and the release of his new book of essays, poetry and memoir.

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Arts & Culture
4:38 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Organizers say "Save Rosie's Factory" campaign will be a success

One of the real "Rosies" at work at a bomber plant.
Credit Alfred T. Palmer / U.S. Government

It looks like Rosie the Riveter's famous "We Can Do It!" line is proving true once again. 

The campaign to save part of the historic Willow Run bomber plant, where Rosie and thousands of others worked during World War II, says it believes it's raised enough money to keep it from being torn down. 

For the last year or so, the Yankee Air Museum has been trying to raise around $8 million.

That, organizers said, would be enough to buy a corner of the plant and separate it from the rest of the building, which is set to be demolished.

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Politics & Government
11:31 am
Mon April 28, 2014

With violence back home, Michigan's Iraqis go to the polls

At a polling place in Dearborn, Iraqis celebrate casting their ballots.
Credit Kate Wells

Michigan’s Iraqi community heads to the polls this week in the first major election since U.S. troops left the country.

It’s both an ecstatic and extremely tense time.

One voting site is a big, ornate banquet hall in Dearborn, and it's packed with Christians, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds – all Iraqis, many with kids and grandparents taking pictures of each other holding up ink-stained fingers, souvenirs from casting their ballots.

Multiple people mentioned “feeling like this is a wedding,” and several made big sacrifices in order to cast their ballots.

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Environment & Science
10:58 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Anger, concern over petroleum drilling in Scio Township

Drilling is already happening at several sites across Michigan.
Credit Bureau of Land Management

"How many of you are here to stop the drilling?" one woman asked the crowd of about 200 at a town forum in Scio Township last night.

Big applause broke out.

It was the first indication that the crowd was not going to be a friendly one for the executives from West Bay Exploration, a Traverse City-based drilling company that has asked several landowners in Scio Township to sign over leases for their mineral rights.

The town forum was billed as an opportunity to "become educated about oil and gas leasing."

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Politics & Government
6:33 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Saginaw postpones LGBT discrimination ban

Saginaw city council is delaying a vote on an LGBT discrimination ban.
Credit user Marlith / Flickr

Saginaw is putting off a decision about whether to have a citywide ban on discrimination based 

on sexual orientation or gender identity.  

The Saginaw Council chambers were packed to capacity, according to the Associated Press. 

But the council voted not to make a decision just yet. A few members said they wanted time to talk with the city's business and religious community.

But Councilwoman Annie Boensch says she thinks churches will support it, once they understand they're exempted from the ban.

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Arts & Culture
1:13 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

The return of Artpod!

Yo Yo Ma is pumped for more Artpod.
Credit Dave Trumpie

It's been a long, stupidly cold and soul-killing winter. 

Few people know that Artpod cannot survive until we've had at least three days above 70 degrees.

So it's only now that Artpod can emerge from hibernation,  much the way men's feet are unfortunately baring themselves to the world in flip flops again.  

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Economy
12:24 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

1 in 3 Michiganders are seriously underwater on their homes

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

At first it doesn't sound that great: 1 in 3 people who have mortgages still owe at least 25% more on their house than it's actually worth.

But a year ago, it was even worse. At that time, more than half of all Michiganders with mortgages were in that position.

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Education
4:31 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

In Gibbons case, University of Michigan won't share internal privacy policies

Federal, student and media investigators want to know why the university didn't expel football player Brendan Gibbons for his 2009 actions until four years later
Credit user Cbl62 / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Michigan is using what it calls its own interpretations of privacy laws to keep student investigators and media from understanding why it took four years to expel Brendan Gibbons for violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy. 

The university, however, has not disclosed what those interpretations are, or if they are a written internal policy.

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Politics & Government
7:13 am
Mon April 14, 2014

With stalemate in D.C., White House pushes jobless benefits in Michigan

Credit Michael Raphael / Flickr

Anybody who's out of work in Michigan knows they can't get an unemployment check for as long as they used to. 

Ever since the federal government stopped offering emergency benefits extensions at the end of last year, Michiganders can get just 20 weeks of jobless benefits.

They used have up to 99 weeks, back when the recession was at its worst.

For months now, Democrats and a handful of Republicans have been trying to get those extensions up and running again. 

But some Republicans say no.

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Arts & Culture
7:00 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Yo Yo Ma playing with Detroit kids might make your heart melt

Fourth graders learn to dance from former New York City Ballet dancer Damian Woetzel.
Dave Trumpie trumpiephotography.com

Cellist Yo Yo Ma and a few other renowned artists were in Detroit this week, working with some very young musicians.

"Can we say 'Tchaikovsky'?"

"Tchaikovsky!" screamed a classroom of obedient fourth graders.  

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Health
3:39 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

For some aging vets, PTSD triggered late in life

As many as 1 in 3 older vets may experience late-onset PTSD
John M. Cropper Flickr

There’s still so much we don’t understand about war vets and PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Why some experience it, but so many others don’t. 

Why one vet can have symptoms right away, while another can be fine for years.

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Politics & Government
5:30 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Adopting a child in Michigan could soon get a little easier

Credit Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Parents looking to adopt a child in Michigan could soon have a little less red tape to deal with. That's if Governor Snyder signs off on a package of bills the legislature just passed.  

For parents like Kimberly Naik of Holland, the adoption process started when her son was less than a year old ... and didn't finish until he was three and a half. 

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Law
7:26 am
Thu March 27, 2014

State Senate says minors shouldn't be charged as prostitutes

New bill would not charge child sex workers with prostitution.
Credit FBI / Wikimedia

The Michigan Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would make it illegal to charge minors with prostitution. 

"Right now, when children who are victims of sex trafficking in Michigan are found, they’re frequently criminalized," says Bridgette Carr of the University of Michigan Human Trafficking Clinic. "We don’t have a path for them to be treated as victims of sexual abuse, rather than criminals."

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Arts & Culture
7:00 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Not just another movie about Detroit: Free Press Film Fest kicks off an experiment

On opening night, the festival audience filled most of the Fillmore Theater in Detroit.
Kate Wells

"One great movie can change you," the ads said. See if they're right: listen to the full story above.

I like movies. You like movies.

So let’s get together, watch some new documentaries about Detroit, and then talk with the people who actually have the power to fix some of the stuff that’s wrong in this city.

That’s the idea behind the first-ever Detroit Free Press Film Fest, which kicked off last week with a line stretched for blocks around the Fillmore Theater.

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