Kate Wells

Arts, Culture & Education Reporter/Producer

Kate Wells is an award-winning reporter covering 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.   

Covering the planned Red Wings arena construction
User: WXYZ-TV Detroit / YouTube

After weeks of delays, Detroit's city council has finally voted to let major construction start on the new Red Wings arena.

The city's been going back and forth on the details of this $450 million arena for months with Olympia Development – which is owned by the Ilitch family, who also own the Red Wings and Little Caesar’s.

taliesin / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

UPDATE: Highland Park's police chief Kevin Coney has sent out a press release about Officer William Melendez's employment status with department.

It says part-time officer Melendez "has not worked in quite some time, a period exceeding 60 days, [and] shall not return to any role or have any active role within the police department, pending the outcome of the recently charged case."  

The University of Michigan

Billionaire A. Alfred Taubman died Friday at home from a heart attack, according to the Associated Press. He was 91.

He led “an epic American life,” growing up a poor Jewish kid in Detroit, and going on to make a massive fortune by creating the modern shopping mall.

He also survived a major scandal in his later years, when he went to prison for price-fixing.

What’s more, Alfred Taubman was the second-largest donor ever to the University of Michigan.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The Ann Arbor school board has unanimously voted to ban guns on school grounds, less than two months after a man wore a gun to a school choir concert.

Dozens of parents turned out to recent board meetings asking the board members to pass the ban.

But it required lengthy discussion with the board’s legal advisors, because technically, an exception in Michigan law makes it legal for someone with a concealed pistol license to open carry in schools.

Kate Wells

The Michigan Innocence Clinic is asking for a new trial for Davontae Sanford, who in 2007 was a developmentally disabled 14-year-old when he confessed to fatally shooting four people in a house on Runyon Street in Detroit.

Shortly after Sanford was tried as an adult and sentenced to prison, a hit man named Vincent Smothers was arrested and confessed to several murders – including the ones for which Sanford was convicted.

Smothers told police they had the wrong guy.

flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A Michigan school district is defending its gun ban in court.

Open carry advocates sued the Clio Area School District back in March. 

That's after a dad with a concealed pistol license was asked to leave his daughter's elementary school for openly carrying a gun.

City of Detroit

Just eight months after it was set to be torn down, developers are preserving the historic Detroit recreation center where Joe Louis trained.

Olympia Development

There was a lot of frustrated head-shaking at city hall in Detroit today, as the city council yet again delayed a vote to let construction get going on the $650 million Red Wing arena and entertainment district.

Working World / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

It's being billed as the largest anti-bullying rally in the state: 13 of Detroit's public schools are gathering with Special Olympics Michigan this week. 

The students will sign a pledge not to use the word "retarded."

flickr user The National Guard / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This week we've been talking about the higher cancer risk that firefighters face.

And the good news about all this is that Michigan passed a new law this year, creating a fund to cover firefighters if they get certain kinds of cancer on the job.

But there are two problems.

First, female firefighters feel they're being unfairly left out, because while the law covers prostate and testicular cancer, it doesn't cover breast cancer.

Campus Martius park.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union says it's gotten Detroit to create new, interim rules to protect free speech and protests in public parks – even if those parks are privately managed.

The ACLU sued the city because it believes several protests were illegally shut down by private security at Campus Martius, a downtown park that's run by a private consortium.

Covering the planned Red Wings arena construction
User: WXYZ-TV Detroit / YouTube

Detroit's City Council is delaying a vote that would let the new, multi-million dollar Red Wings arena move ahead.

It was supposed to decide today whether Olympia development could go ahead with its current plans to build around one historic hotel, the Eddystone, while razing another, the Park Avenue.

flickr user The National Guard / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Firefighters have dangerous jobs. We all know that.

But a growing body of research suggests those dangers don’t go away once the flames are put out: several studies say firefighters have a significantly higher cancer risk, even when they’re young.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

All this week we’re talking about teacher training.

But there’s one thing that’s almost impossible to teach students in college: how to manage a classroom.

taliesin / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Floyd Dent, the black man who was beaten and tased by white Inkster police officers, goes to court this week on a drug charge after the officer who repeatedly punched him in the head says he found cocaine in Dent's car.

Dent says the officer, William Melendez, planted the drugs on him.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Trinity Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor announced it will not put a temporary homeless camp on its' property this summer.

The pastor, Rev. Lori Carey, says they can't get insurance for it this year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials say previously high levels of a chlorine byproduct that can cause liver issues and even cancer if it’s ingested in high quantities over many years, are back down to safe levels in city drinking water.

The city had to send out a notice in November to residents letting them know that tests showed there were potentially unsafe levels of trihalomethane (TTHM) in the water.

MorgueFile /

The Michigan State Police has opened an investigation into the beating of a black driver by white police officers in Inkster.

Inkster police stopped Floyd Dent back in January, but some of the police dash-cam video of Dent's arrest and beating went viral this week.

State police Lieutenant Mike Shaw says the Inkster police chief asked them to step in on Monday.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

UPDATE: We've added the actual policies that the board is considering below.

Ann Arbor's school board met last night to consider banning guns on campus.

It's been weighing the question since a gun-rights advocate named Joshua Wade wore a gun to a high school concert. In Michigan, it’s legal to openly carry a gun in schools so long as you have a concealed pistol license.  

A package of bills to protect victims of domestic violence was introduced to the state House today.

Together, the bills would create a confidentiality program for victims, allow them to get unemployment benefits if they leave their jobs because of abuse, use sick leave to meet with legal and medical professionals, and prohibit landlords from evicting tenants over disruptions that happen because of domestic violence.

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr / Flickr

Catherine Martin says when she heard on TV this morning that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was going to announce a new program giving out zero-interest loans for home repairs, she knew she needed to get to that press conference.

So she called her son “who has one of those smart phones” at 6 a.m., asked him to Google the press conference address, and then took two buses to be there in time.

taliesin / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

All Michigan police would have to wear body cameras under a new bill in Lansing.

While several police departments around the state already have body cameras or are planning to adopt them, State Rep. Rose Mary Robinson, D-Detroit, is sponsoring a bill that would make them universal. 

Bruce Giffin / Courtesy of the Sphinx Organization

Aaron Dworkin, founder of the nationally recognized Sphinx organization – which runs scholarships and competitions for black and Latino students in classical music – is leaving to become the new dean of the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theater & Dance. 

"Sphinx has really been my life's work," says Dworkin, who's passing the baton to his wife and Sphinx's current artistic director, Afa Dworkin. 


Three members of Sigma Alpha Mu at the University of Michigan are facing criminal charges after the fraternity vandalized a ski resort one January weekend in Gaylord, Michigan.

Arielle Solomon / Flickr

Developers want to turn Detroit's old state fairgrounds into 160 acres of senior living, apartments, shopping, small parks, and space for Wayne County Community College.

Those plans were unveiled to the public in detail this week.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Permanent suspension sounds … well … permanent, right?


Just because the Sigma Alpha Mu international board has voted to “permanently suspend the charter of our University of Michigan chapter” after the fraternity vandalized a ski resort in Northern Michigan, doesn’t mean the frat is gone forever.

Flickr user silverlinedwinnebego

When LaWanda Williamson’s arm was burned by fryer oil at the McDonald’s where she says she works in Detroit, her manager was standing right next to her.

“And the manger was standing there like, ‘Oh snap, you ok?’ And it was burned she never even offered me the [burn] cream. I didn’t even know they had burn cream.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Highland Park officials say they want to board up more blighted homes with steel, rather than wood.

Steel is really good at keeping out squatters. Problem is, it's also really expensive.

The city started using steel shutters on a handful of houses after an 11-year-old girl was raped in December in an abandoned house.

Provided by Duane Kelley

We want to fill you in on what’s going on with Detroit’s retired firefighters.

These are the men and women who ran into burning buildings, day after day, some of them for decades.

And while they made it through the city’s bankruptcy with their pensions pretty much intact, they lost their health care.

Croswell Opera House

A theater in Adrian is putting on a production geared for kids with autism.

"The Cat in the Hat" at the Croswell Opera House will try to minimize loud noises or bright lights.