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.   

Ed Uthman / Creative Commons

Maybe don't read this story right after plowing through a pecan pie, ok? 

Because a group of scientists are finding that what young women eat during puberty could determine how breast cancer cells develop in their bodies for the rest of their lives.

The culprit: high-fat diets.

It's not just about weight: high fat diets may hurt skinny and heavy women alike 

Michigan researchers say eating lots of fat as a teen can speed up breast cancer cell development, especially for cancers usually associated with young adult women. 

It's been a weary, awful November in metro Detroit so far. 

A week ago Saturday, 19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot dead by a 54-year-old white homeowner in Dearborn Heights.

She was killed on his porch. Her family says she was looking for help after her car crashed, more than 2 hours earlier and about six blocks away in Detroit.

Police haven't released the homeowner's name yet. But his attorney says he thought McBride was an intruder, and that the gun went off accidentally. An autopsy confirms she was shot in the face.

So far, he hasn't been arrested. The Wayne County Prosecutor's office announced Monday that it had "begun the warrant review process," but was awaiting more evidence from Dearborn Heights police before deciding on charges.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, Royal Oak will be the latest city in Michigan to decide whether discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people should be illegal.

Both sides say it’s going to be thisclose, with voters split just about down the middle.

Opponents of the proposal are plenty motivated – just the fact that Royal Oak is having this vote is because of their hustle.

It’s their ability to collect more than the required 746 petitions that put this on the ballot in the first place.

Group says vote “no” to protect Royal Oak’s businesses

Photo courtesy of the Project's facebook page

Hundreds of volunteers patrolled the streets of Detroit last night and will do so again tonight.

With flashing lights on their car roofs and maps pointing out abandoned buildings, they drove slowly, looking for arsonists.

Halloween in Detroit used to mean lots of fires: some 800 buildings blazed in the mid 1990's, when Devil's Night was at its peak. 

The city became infamous for these arson sprees, with reporters flying in from as far away as Japan and Australia to cover the chaos. 

"The 2012 Supreme Court campaign was the most expensive and least transparent in history."

Yikes. 

That's the unflattering takeaway from a new report from a consortium of groups like the Brennan Center for Justice and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 

Of the $19 million dollars poured into the state's Supreme Court races, $13 million went to ads like the following.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Every time we see still another story about school violence, we ask the same question: why wasn’t anyone able to stop it?

With still more school violence in the news this week, three Michigan school districts are splitting a $2 million grant to spot and treat mental illness in students.

Saginaw, Houghton Lake and Detroit’s Education Achievement Authority are getting this aid specifically because they're struggling with student mental health or safety issues, according to state and local data.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

At ArtPod, we love a good party. 

If that party also happens to be a jaw-dropping, massive immersive art experience (and did we mention semi-naked people?) with more than 2,000 attendees, some 350 performers, and crazy burlesque, then we really love it.

So grab a cocktail and let us take you inside Theatre Bizarre, the annual masquerade in Detroit's Masonic Temple that draws thousands of people and global attention each year.  

Bridge card users could soon be unable to get cash out of ATMs inside strip clubs, some liquor stores, and casinos.  That's the idea behind a package of bills the state Senate passed today. 

Bridge cards are mostly associated with food assistance, but they also let families with kids get temporary cash assistance for things like child care and rent. 

So what happens if you live in a rural or urban area where the only ATM is in a liquor store? 

That's what state Sen. Morris Hood (D-Detroit) says he's worried about. 

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

This past weekend, more than 2,000 people in Detroit attended the annual, one-night-only masquerade called Theatre Bizarre.

The event transforms the city’s Masonic Temple into a dream world of S&M, punk rock, grandmothers in leather and carnival sideshows.

DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

It’s a long shot, but there is a chance.

If federal Judge Bernard Friedman overturns the same-sex marriage ban tomorrow, that could open a small window for Michigan’s same-sex couples to legally marry in this state.

How small would that window be? Teeny. Maybe just a few hours, maybe days.

That’s because a ruling against the marriage ban would be almost immediately appealed by Michigan’s attorney general, Bill Schuette. He’d also ask the appeals court to put a temporary freeze on Friedman’s ruling until the higher court decides the case.

Grocery cart
user mytvdinner / Flickr

The federal shutdown is hitting struggling Michigan families where they live.

At first, panicked calls flooded into Washtenaw County health services, says Karen Lewis.

She helps run the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC), which help low-income moms get milk, bread, vegetables and fruit for their kids.

Every month, the county serves some 5,000 families who look to WIC, says Lewis.

DIA

Editor's note: we added a little more information about why the DIA is in this position in the first place. Basically, Detroit's bankrupt.  

There's a growing list of things the DIA has tried and failed to protect its collection from a partial liquidation, if Detroit decides to sell the art in order to help dig the bankrupt city out of debt. 

DIA leaders have called up big donors.

Pitched to local foundations and corporations.

They’ve even asked other museums as far away as the Middle East to rent some of the DIA’s collections.

So far, nothing's worked.

morguefile / morguefile.com

Grab your pumpkin spice latte, your flannel PJs, and curl up under the covers.

We've got some great Michigan books to keep you company on these chilly fall nights.

user aMichiganMom / Flickr

This is not your five-year-old's animation.

Although you can certainly bring your five-year-old. They'll be right at home in the exhibits' dark halls lined with screen after screen after screen, like a little iPad addict's paradise.

"Watch Me Move" is, according to the Detroit Institute of  Arts, the  largest animation exhibition ever mounted.

And when you exit, you'll feel like it was both too short, and somehow way too vast to get a good grasp in just one visit.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

When a veteran comes home from war with an obvious injury, like a missing arm, they know they'll have to talk about it.

Some vets get so used to telling that war wound story, it becomes almost routine.

What’s harder to talk about, and to understand, are the invisible injuries.

That's why a nonprofit called Fashion Has Heart is pairing wounded vets with graphic designers.

Together, they create t-shirts and combat boots that reflect each vet's experience.

And right now they’re on display at ArtPrize, where anybody can buy - and wear - the results.

User Motown31 / Creative Commons

Tomorrow is count day for Michigan's public schools.

The more students a school has in attendance on count day, the more money they get from the state.

It's a make or break day for Detroit Public Schools.

After months of sales pitches, finding out how many students enrolled

The district has spent months trying to recruit kids away from charter schools and private academies.

ArtPrize / ArtPrize

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum's employees have been "busting their tails" to make ArtPrize go smoothly, in the words of one ArtPrize organizer.

It's their big spotlight: last year, some 195,000 visitors trooped through the museum to check out the ArtPrize entries housed in the Ford. Even more visitors are expected this year, according to one museum official.

But now, with a government shutdown just hours away, the Ford museum could go dark at midnight tonight.

And two of Artprize's top 10 finalists are still on display in the museum.

Artprize

Hundreds of people flooded downtown Grand Rapids over the weekend to hear the top 10 finalists of this year’s ArtPrize announced.

Courtesy of Children First

Michigan's new healthcare exchange goes live next Tuesday (October 1), and the White House put out a sneek peak of sorts.

It’s a snapshot of prices Michiganders could pay for what are expected to be some of the most popular plans.

In terms of cost, Michigan is projected to be below the national average.

user anna / Flickr

A Michigan CEO says he'll ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a law requiring employers to cover their worker’s contraceptives. 

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s one of more than 30 similar lawsuits currently making their way through the nation’s courts.

But this one could be the case that makes it to the Supreme Court.

Here’s why.

A sympathetic story?

John Kennedy is the CEO of Autocam Corp, a manufacturing company based outside Grand Rapids.

He’s also a Roman Catholic.

The Detroit Institute of Arts
Flickr

Editor's Note: Corrected Abigail Esman's name from "Eisman" to the proper spelling, Esman. The proper pronunciation rhymes with "says man", not "ice man."

Right now, appraisers from New York Auction House Christie’s are sifting through some 3,500 pieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

As part of the city’s bankruptcy case, the Emergency Manager is paying them to put a price on part of the collection.

Of course, that’s fueling even more fast-flying rumors about losing great works to private collectors, or getting massive loans for the city using Monets as collateral.

So here’s a quick field guide to what’s true, and what’s just talk.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

Can a Michigan investment fund make big money by investing only in mid-size Michigan companies?

That’s the idea behind the Michigan Prosperity Fund.

It’s the brainchild of Michigan native Martin Stein, founder and CEO of private equity firm Blackford Capital.

Stein previously based Blackford out of LA, but says he started noticing a trend: about 70% of the companies he invested in were in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

“So, on the business side, it made a lot of sense for us to be closer to where we were investing in companies,” says Stein.

Most nights, photographer Bruce Giffin drives a pickup truck around Detroit, his dog Henry riding shotgun.

Giffin doesn't know what he's looking for: a couple kissing on their porch, maybe, or a late-night taco truck.

The results are photographs of Detroit's everyday people and places as many people never see them.

Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells tagged along on one of his night shoots, and brought back this report.

GsGeorge / WIKIMEDIA Commons

"Something’s going to have to give,” says Liz Margolis, spokesperson for the Ann Arbor school district.

This fall, kids in Ann Arbor are coming back to schools with 34 fewer teaching positions, and nine fewer staff positions.

That means fewer reading intervention specialists, administrators, secretaries, facilities workers and lunchroom staff.

Carving out $8 million from this year’s budget was “severe,” says Margolis.

And it’s already having “direct impacts on our classroom."

Avanash Kunnath / Flickr

Because you've got to eventually take a break from watching football, listening to football radio, and reading about football online sometime, right?

A little break? For arts?

Ok, then just for you NPR nerds who conform to stereoptype and aren't that into college ball, this one's for you.  

This episode, ArtPod's got a brand spanking new play, a Michigan murder mystery, and a crazy bit of history you didn't know about Motown.

If it helps, Ohio State's ArtPod will be nowhere near this good. If OSU, you know, had an ArtPod. 

http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/environmental_health/card / Washtenaw County

As a plume of contaminated ground water keeps expanding in Ann Arbor, the city council wants the state to move faster to protect people from harmful exposure.

To be clear: Ann Arbor drinking water is safe.

But growing swaths of the city’s ground water is no longer a good idea to ingest (and again, the city is NOT getting their water from those areas,) thanks to chemical runoff from years ago.

That chemical compound is 1,4 dioxane and it seeped into ground water between the 1960's and 1980's when a manufacturer stored it in unlined lagoons.

Patricia Drury / Flickr

The judge overseeing Detroit's bankruptcy says he'll decide whether Governor Snyder and other state officials have to testify under oath about their decisions leading up to bankruptcy.

Union attorneys say Governor Snyder may have intended to take the city into bankruptcy all along, even before he hired an emergency manager.

If that's true, they say the city couldn't have negotiated with creditors in good faith.

That's a requirement for bankruptcy. 

But the state's attorneys say deposing Governor Snyder isn't relevant to this case.

AKip Productions / http://akipprod.com/about.html

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.

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. 

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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