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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Arts & Culture
12:38 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

New play looks at cancer in college

Alex Kip was diagnosed with cancer his senior year in college.
AKip Productions http://akipprod.com/about.html

Love, pot brownies, and the full story here.

Nobody expects to get cancer in college.  

Alex Kip was just 23 when he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

But the musical theater major at the University of Michigan was about to get even more bad news.

Young adults are the only cancer patients whose survival rates are not improving.

Now cancer-free, Kip is trying to help others, using what he knows best: theater.

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Education
8:46 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Time's running out to get 5,000 new kids to DPS

DPS built their whole budget on the bet they can lure 5,000 new kids to the district. Now, time is almost up.
User Motown31 Creative Commons

The clock’s running out for the Detroit Public School district.

School starts Tuesday, and DPS officials went into the summer with the hefty goal of recruiting 5,000 new students.

That's an awful lot of new kids, especially given that demographers predict just the opposite. They think DPS will lose students this year, like they have in the past.

It's an important goal for DPS, because even if they have the same number of students as last year, they’ll have to cut $38 million from the budget. 

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Arts & Culture
5:23 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

ArtPod bids farewell to summer & to one of Michigan's great writers

Summer's almost over and we are not happy about that.
farmer64 Morgue File

This time on ArtPod, we say a sad goodbye to one of Michigan’s best writers, and wistfully wave to a summer packed with adventures, music, and general art goodness.  

In today’s lineup:

Elmore Leonard was the freaking man

Detroit lost one of its greats yesterday. We’ve got an appreciation and a look back at the fabulous, game-changing career of the “Dickens of Detroit.”

After that, we’re going to go binge on Justified on Netflix as tribute.   

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Arts & Culture
11:49 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Remembering Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard died yesterday from complications from a stoke.
Linda Solomon HarperCollins Publishers

Detroit lost one of its greats yesterday.

Elmore Leonard, 87, will be remembered as the writer who rehabbed the Western, wrote great bad guys, and saw his stories made into movies like "3:10 to Yuma" and "Get Shorty."

So in honor of one of America’s most prolific crime writer, we're going to take a tip from the man himself: show, don’t tell.

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Arts & Culture
2:18 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

In this Traverse City gallery, strong drinks but "no watercolors of cherries"

Art in the InsideOut gallery
Kate Wells Michigan Radio

If you’re a local in Northern Michigan, especially in a tourist town, you need a few places that are all your own.

That dive bar visitors don’t know. The private beach that’s hidden away.

For Traverse City residents, one place like that is the InsideOut art gallery.

First thing you do there is get a drink at the cocktail bar.

Then, you head to the patio that has no view of the lake (which, hey, no tourists!)

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Law
3:34 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Is Davontae Sanford in prison for a hit man's crimes?

The case is now before the court of appeals.
Ken Mayer Flickr

Hear the full story.

A new chapter in a bizarre murder case is playing out in Detroit.

Six years after four people were gunned down in a drug dealer’s home on the city’s east side, one mother maintains her son is innocent and in prison for a professional hit man’s crimes.

The hit man agrees.

Now, after five years in prison, Davontae Sanford may get another shot at justice.

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Law
6:27 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

The kid or the hit man: who killed 4 people?

Davontae Sanders was a partially blind, developmentally delayed 14-year-old when he was charged with murder.

The Michigan Court of Appeals today heard the case of a 14-year-old boy convicted of four murders.

The court is considering evidence that the now 20-year-old man may be innocent.

In 2007, four people were shot in a Detroit neighborhood.

Police picked up Davontae Sanford, a partially blind, developmentally-delayed 14-year-old.

They held him for questioning without a parent or attorney present.

Sanford confessed and was given decades in prison.

Then, a convicted hit man, Vincent Smothers, said he - not Sanford - committed those murders.

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Politics & Government
6:20 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Detroit to put a price on DIA, Windsor Tunnel and other assets

Peter Martorano Flickr

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr announced today that the city will start figuring out how much its assets are worth.

This comes as the bankrupt city is wrangling with creditors about how much of Detroit’s $11.5 billion unsecured debt will actually be repaid.

Orr also says he’s hiring Christie’s auction house to appraise the city-owned portion of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection.

It’s tough news to those still holding out hope that the museum will emerge unscathed from the bankruptcy process.

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Politics & Government
6:11 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Would hiking property taxes save Wayne County?

Public trust in government is already low, thanks to projects like the new jail
Wayne County via Wayne County

It's no secret Wayne County is in rough financial shape, with an accumulated deficit nearing $200 million.

County budget officials say a financial review team that could lead to an emergency manager may not be far off.

Yet perhaps all is not lost: those same budget watchers say the county can still get back on the right track.

But their solution is about as politically popular as a property tax increase for Wayne County residents.

Because it IS a proposed property tax increase for Wayne County residents.

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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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