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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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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Developing
4:00 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

Same-sex couples flock to clerks' offices to wed ahead of temporary stay

Jere Clausen and Bruce Walters were the first gay couple to be married in Muskegon County this morning.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Update 5:05 p.m.

In a reversal from what it signaled earlier in the day, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a temporary stay on the decision to strike down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage. 

The court said it issued the stay to allow a "more reasoned consideration" of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's request for a hold on Friday's decision.

3:43 p.m.

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Arts & Culture
11:43 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Ann Arbor Schools losing kids; is $10 million short

District officials aren't sure why 150 more kids left this year, compared to last year.
GsGeorge WIKIMEDIA Commons

First, there's the mystery of the disappearing kids. 

Ann Arbor's enrollment dropped by about 200 students this year. 

That's a surprise, School Board Treasurer Glenn Nelson says, because enrollment was basically stable last year. 

Administrators do know where about 50 of those kids went: the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, which offers specialized programming. 

But the other 150 students?

"I don't know," says Nelson. "And that's something I wish we knew more about." 

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Education
12:54 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Three things you might not know about sexual assault on campus

Maybe you've heard 1 in 5 college women will be assaulted. Here's what you don't know about campus assaults.

Ok, first, the stats. 

The bad news: the problem is rampant

For every 10,000 women on a college campus, as many as 350 could experience attempted to completed rape every school year. 

Those numbers come from the U.S. Department of Justice, in a 2005 report on what schools are doing about sexual assault on campus. 

If those stats bear out, then at a school the size of the University of Michigan, as many as 490 women will experience attempted or completed rape every school year.

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Weather
5:14 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Flood risk has West Michigan Red Cross focusing on disaster aid

Flooding last year in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Almost a year after Grand Rapids was slammed by major flooding, the Red Cross is rallying West Michigan aid groups in case this spring’s snowmelt leads to another big flood.  

Chip Kragt, of the Red Cross in Michigan, says the organization is getting updates from the National Weather Service.    

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Arts & Culture
5:00 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Homeless veteran buried in National Cemetery after 5 months unclaimed in morgue

Larry Tucker was a Navy vet, a sci fi fan, and a videographer
Rick Lieder

A homeless navy veteran died in Ann Arbor last October.

No family members came forward to claim his body.

So for five months, the veteran’s body lay in the morgue.

Now, finally, thanks to a few friends who refused to give up, Lawrence Tucker’s body was laid to rest last week at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan.

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Arts & Culture
3:39 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

In Ann Arbor, public art money will be spent on sewers, roads

"Radius," by Ed Carpenter, hangs in Ann Arbor's Justice Center. It's an example of the much-debated public arts project.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission City of Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor's city council is sending almost $100,000 of public art money back to city services. 

Last year, they pulled the plug on a controversial plan called "Percent for Art." 

For five years, it set aside money from some new city construction projects and put it towards art installations.  

Now, council members are sending the leftover money back to city services, to pay for things like roads and sewers.  

They will hold onto enough money to wrap up a few art projects, and they're asking for a new plan for future public art. 

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Arts & Culture
8:15 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Some advocates think it might be time to ditch arts education as we know it

Arts advocates are trying new tactics: cold hard numbers, and an in-school overhaul.
kakisky http://www.morguefile.com/creative/kakisky

Nobody gets into politics or education with the dream of taking arts education away from children.

We get it. There is no evil bad guy out there, stroking his evil bad guy beard and cackling as he watches the arts being slowly siphoned away from kids in struggling schools.

But those cuts are happening, thanks to dwindling budgets and less time for anything that isn’t test prep.

And the usual hand wringing just isn’t going to cut it.

That’s why arts advocates are trying some new tactics to sell you, me, lawmakers and educators on arts education.

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Education
5:32 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Feds say U of M, MSU sexual assaults under investigation

Former UM football player, Brendan Gibbons, was accused of rape in 2009. Media reports claim the school is now being investigated for how it handled the case.
user Cbl62 Wikimedia Commons

If school administrators know, or should know, about a sexual assault involving students, they have to act fast – and they have to "address" the "effects" of the assault. 

That's according to federal law, under Title IX.

But neither the University of Michigan, nor Michigan State University, handled sexual assaults the right way, according to complaints sent to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.

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Economy
10:57 am
Tue February 25, 2014

In Detroit, coworking spaces aim to bring startups together

Want to rent a desk in Detroit? Coworking spaces are sprouting up around the city.
Peter Martorano Flickr

Life for a startup company is tough.

But life for a startup in Detroit may be getting a little easier.

Coworking spaces are sprouting up around the city. They've become increasingly popular across the country in the wake of the recession, according to this video from office furniture company Turnstone: 

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Education
2:49 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

The University of Michigan wants more black students

Three of the students at the Board of Regents meeting yesterday.
Kate Wells Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan has a race problem.

“Open it up! Or we’ll shut it down!” chanted half a dozen black students at the Board of Regents meeting yesterday.

Their frustrations are getting national attention. 

The Black Student union has led protests on campus and online.

Their #BBUM Twitter campaign (Being Black at U of M) has gone viral. 

They’re fed up, they say, by a school that boasts about a diverse community, yet where just roughly 5% of some 28,000 undergraduate students are black.

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