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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Health
8:36 am
Sat August 3, 2013

Michigan health officials sound the alarm for West Nile Virus

Mosquito
dr_relling Flickr

The first human case of West Nile virus is being reported in Michigan this week.

Last year, the virus killed 17 people in this state.

Here's the good news: There has been lots of rain this year.

It turns out the kind of mosquitos that carry West Nile like dry, hot weather.

The bad news: we're not in the clear yet. August and September are the peak months for mosquitos.

It wasn't until this time last year that Michigan had its first human case in 2012.

"The fact is, we're seeing it in animals, now we're seeing it in humans,” says

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Arts & Culture
1:17 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

The tough road for a small biz in vacationland

Read this before you quit that day job.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Hear the full story above.

On every great vacation, there’s that moment when you think: hey, we should move here! No really, I’m serious this time!

We’ve all been there.   

Heck, northern Michigan is littered with B&Bs, cafes and art galleries run by vacationers who never left.

New ones open every summer. And every summer, some of them go bust.

So we hunted down some of the folks who are actually courageous (or crazy) enough to make the leap.

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Politics & Government
2:18 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Detroit firefighters, police show up for bankruptcy hearings

user: jodelli Flickr

In Detroit today, firefighters and police came out to watch the first day of federal bankruptcy hearings.

They know their pensions could be on the line.

Detroit’s pension funds are $3.5 billion short, according to the emergency manager.

So pensions will likely be slashed as the city tries to dig out of debt.

But some Detroit employees are filing to block the bankruptcy.

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Arts & Culture
5:24 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

ArtPod heads up north

Where to go? What to read? ArtPod's got you covered.
Bug_girl_mi Flickr

There’s nothing ArtPod hates more than humidity. Don’t even mention the word “frizz” right now.

And since so much of southern Michigan swings between flash flooding to feeling like a sauna, ArtPod is doing what all true Michiganders do: heading up north.

Specifically, Petoskey. And not just for the pretty bay views or the $5 kiddie-size gelato.  

Petoskey has a humming arts community in its own right, one that draws artists and art buyers from across Michigan, even out of state.

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Education
2:38 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Detroit Public Schools pinning budget hopes on 5,000 new students

MLK High School
DPS

Consider this some free advertising.

Right now, Detroit Public Schools is proposing its most optimistic budget in years:

  • No teacher layoffs
  • The return of after-school programming, at least in some schools
  • Minimal increases in class sizes
  • New parenting resources
  • A little more money for instruction: about $2 million in total 

But it’s all riding on whether the district can lure 5,000 students away from competitors.

That’s a big bet to make.

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Education
1:26 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Wayne State says no choice but to raise tuition beyond state cap

The school is raising tuition 8.9%.
User: ellenm1 flickr

You’ll have to pay an additional $900 a year to be a Wayne State student next school year.

The university is raising tuition by 8.9%.

That’s especially tough on a student body that’s almost entirely from in-state.

And it’s a dramatic move for the school.

This year, every other public university in Michigan is playing along with a state deal: schools get access to an extra pool of state money, if they cap tuition hikes at 3.75%.

But that incentive isn’t enough to make up for deeper cuts from the state.   

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Politics & Government
6:25 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

In Detroit, a front-runner for mayor self-destructs

Mike Duggan is beloved by business leaders, but a minor screw-up is ending his bid
Mike Duggan

Hear the full story above.

Mike Duggan has dropped out of the race for Detroit mayor, a day after the Michigan Court of Appeals removed him from the ballot.

A stocky white guy from Livonia, Duggan moved his family to Detroit last year so he  could run.

But now, he'll likely be remembered as the guy who couldn't wait just two weeks.

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Health
3:13 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

When you can't afford to go to the emergency room: Michigan families and Medicaid

Jen and Todd Nagle can't afford the ER right now. But they and 470,000 would get covereage if Medicaid expands.
Kate Wells Michigan Radio

Hear the full story above.

For a lot of uninsured families in Michigan, this is a big week.

Lawmakers in Lansing are sloooowly moving ahead with expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

That would give another 470,000 Michiganders coverage.

So who exactly are we talking about here?

The morning I meet Jen and Todd Nagle, we have no clue the day will end with Todd being rushed to the doctor for chest pains.

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Arts & Culture
9:07 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

New Web series laughs at Detroit's "tragic comedy"

The series sends up pop-up mania, politicos, and more.

Kate Wells talks with filmmaker Oren Goldenberg and voice actor Ari Urban.

It just may be the first honest campaign ad.

A tall, broad-shouldered man in a gray suit speaks directly to camera as he strides through Detroit.

Charlie Brooks is running for mayor.

And he wants to be clear: even with an emergency manager in charge, Brooks still believes the mayor's office plays a crucial role.

“I’ll take long vacations, so I can be well-rested. And each day at 4 p.m., I’ll bring tea to our [emergency manager]. Tea time!”

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Arts & Culture
5:42 pm
Sat June 1, 2013

If a state law can't save the DIA, here's what might

DIA

Ever since Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr mentioned maaaaybe putting DIA gems on the table to appease creditors, the you-know-what has hit the fan.

Selling art to pay off debt is a big museum no-no, especially for one as well-regarded as the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Why, museum supporters ask, would any rich donor ever want to give money or art to the DIA again?

What’s to guarantee their gifts won’t just be auctioned off the next time the city needs cash?

And further, if the DIA is blacklisted and other cultural icons sold off, how is a post-bankruptcy Detroit supposed to become a sustainable, cultural, people-drawing city?

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Arts & Culture
10:52 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Grab the sunscreen: ArtPod kicks off summer music, movies and more

ArtPod brings you end-of-school stress concerts, big new documentaries, and craft cocktails. Yum.
user Notorious4Life Wikimedia Commons

Hear the full podcast.

ArtPod is chock-full of summer awesomeness.

We’re putting our own special ArtPod spin on three big summer crowd-pleasers.

The end-of-school concerts.

The new indie movie with all the buzz.

And your own private guide to craft cocktails in Michigan.

Hey, that counts as art. Right?

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Arts & Culture
12:06 am
Thu May 30, 2013

This summer, 50 Michigan museums are free for active military families

Military families get in free to the DIA and 49 other Michigan museums this summer
Maia C/Flickr

You can almost feel the parental summer panic start to kick in. 

School is almost out.

And there are only so many times you can take the kids to the pool before you all go insane.

Those long, hot days can be especially tough for military families, who may only have one parent at home.

That's why 50 Michigan museums are opening their doors, free of charge, to active military personnel and their families this summer.

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Education
9:32 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Why Ann Arbor may lay off teachers for the first time ever

We all thought districts like Ann Arbor were safe from massive cuts. We were wrong.
Ann Arbor Public Schools http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/academics/files/pre3.jpg

In case you've been living under a rock the last couple of months, many Michigan schools are in financial crisis.

It's not just separate outbreaks. It's an epidemic. Buena Vista had to shut down for two weeks when they ran out of money to pay staff. Albion is closing its high school.

About 50 districts are on the state's financial watch list (as in, watch-out-these-guys-could-go-under).

Now, Ann Arbor, the artsy cosmopolitan Disney Land of public school systems, is feeling woozy.

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Arts & Culture
7:56 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Families of Flight 255 victims wait 26 years to hear sole survivor speak

Cecelia Cichan, the sole survivor of flight 255, describes her airplane tattoo in a new documentary
Yellow Wing Productions

Hear from the families, the documentary director, and sole suvivor Cecelia Cichan.

This summer will mark 26 years since Northwest Flight 255 crashed onto the highway outside Detroit Metro Airport.

One hundred fifty-seven people were killed. The wreckage stretched across half a mile.

Only one person survived: a four-year-old girl with brown eyes, a chipped tooth, and purple nail polish.

Her name is Cecelia Cichan, and this week, she’s breaking her long public silence about the crash.

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Arts & Culture
9:56 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Why the art world is freaking out over a house in Detroit

Here's why there's all the fuss over the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit's new piece.
tvol www.flickr.com

Hear the full story, including excerpts from Kate's interview with MOCAD board president.

“Huh.”

That is a completely understandable reaction the first time people see the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit’s new exhibit. It’s called “Mobile Homestead.”

The "work of art" is a mobile house, a suburban-looking, one-story, white ranch house. It's the kind of house they've seen a million times before.

So why is the modern art world, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal breathlessly declaring this house one of the most significant, world-renowned pieces of 2013?

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Arts & Culture
1:33 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Anne Frank cantata helps keep Jewish history alive

The Berkley High School orchestra and choir performs "My Name is Anne Frank."
Jessica Stilger Berkley High School communications

Hear the music, and the full story, above.

When older generations die, there’s always the fear that we’ll lose their stories.

But in metro Detroit’s Jewish community, they’re trying to keep history alive…through music.

And they’re doing it thanks to Anne Frank, her chestnut tree, and a stressed-out high school orchestra in metro Detroit.

Specifically, the Berkley High School orchestra.

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Arts & Culture
1:56 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

ArtPod on actors, adventurers and change

Women photographers are helping mothers heal after the loss of their child.
Monni Must Monni Must

This week, ArtPod is aaaall about the ladies.

You name ‘em, we’ve got them: Michigan photographers, amateur actresses, adventure authors ... the works.

What unites them? They all seek a change.

First up, two moms who found each other in the neonatal intensive care unit. 

Sara Joy was about to lose her infant son. Monni Must was volunteering her talents as a family photographer, coming in to take a final family portrait for Sara and her son. What they didn’t know is how those photos would help them both heal.

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Arts & Culture
11:44 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Grief, healing and one photographer's final family portraits

Sara Joy, and her infant son Joel. Joel lived for just five days.
Monni Must naturallymonni.com

Hear the full story above.

Parents love pictures of their baby. That’s why we don’t complain, at least not to their faces, when they take over Facebook and fill up our email.

But when your baby’s life is cut short, those photographs can take on a whole new significance.

 This is the story of two moms, and how these final family portraits are helping them heal after the loss of a child.

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Education
7:20 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman retiring

Mary Sue Coleman, president, University of Michigan
Official Portrait

The president of the University of Michigan is stepping down.

Mary Sue Coleman officially announced her retirement today: 

The University of Michigan deserves the best in a leader, and I want to give the Board ample time to select the next president. I am committed to working with the Board members to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

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Arts & Culture
4:53 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

In honor of his late wife, this man brings new orchestra to Flint

Professor Emeritus Walker Fesmire will give $100,000 gift to bring all-student orchestra to Flint.
University of Michign-Flint News Service http://www.umflint.edu/news/university-news/retired-professors-gift-will-help-launch-um-flints-first-all-student-orchestra/

There's a new orchestra starting up in Flint.

For decades, the University of Michigan-Flint has been trying to get an all-student orchestra together.

It shelved the idea back in the 1990s due to lack of interest.

This year, a new student string ensemble is up and running. And that got the music department thinking, maybe this was their year.

That's when emeritus professor Walker Fesmire showed up. He's giving the music department a $100,000 gift.

So this fall, the school’s first-ever all-student orchestra will perform an original piece in his honor.

Read more

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