Kate Wells


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.   

Downtown Eaton Rapids, in Michigan's 7th Congressional District, a race that's become one of the most expensive in the state.
Jodi Westrick/Michigan Radio

So you’re flipping around TV one night, and this campaign ad comes up:

 “Walberg DID vote yes on every trade deal. And just last year, he voted to give Obama enhanced power to negotiate T.P.P.” 

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / Creative Commons

If you’re completely sick of everybody in Washington by now, and find yourself thinking "I literally could do a better job than any of those folks in Congress," then you're going to need at least $2 million.

Slatkin is the music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Leonard Slatkin

If you've ever looked at a symphony conductor waving their arms around and thought, "I could do that," here's your shot.

World-renowned conductor and Detroit Symphony music director Leonard Slatkin will teach a free, monthly conducting course on YouTube and his website.

user anna / Flickr

Yes, this is a real thing.

But if you've never heard of reproductive coercion before, you're not alone.

It's a dimension of domestic and intimate partner violence that's only recently been recognized by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. And researchers just started studying it in the last 15 years or so.

Heather McCauley, an epidemiologist and an assistant professor at Michigan State University, says she first heard about it through a colleague.

a pair of feet and chalk spell the word vote on a sidewalk
User Theresa Thompson / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Updated 10/12/16 at 11:45 am to include redacted complaint and note from attorney.

A Kalamazoo man was wrongly told by the Secretary of State’s office that he was not a legal U.S. citizen and therefore was ineligible to vote, according to the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. 

Managing attorney Susan Reed said the young man, who doesn’t want to be named, was born in Liberia and became a U.S. citizen when his American parents adopted him 10 years ago.

He turned 18 earlier this year, registered to vote, and cast a ballot in the state primary.

But when he and his dad went to their local SOS branch to get him a state ID, a staffer told him that he was not, in fact, a legal U.S. citizen – and therefore shouldn’t have voted.

Clinton speaks to supporters in Detroit Monday
Rick Pluta/Michigan Public Radio

One day before the voter registration deadline in Michigan, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton says she’s going to spend the last month of the campaign delivering "a positive message."

At her campaign stop in Detroit today, Clinton laid out her economic plans, like raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing equal pay for women, and making sure students can graduate from college debt-free.

The lawsuit says the health department's vaccine waiver policies are unconstitutional
Sanofi Pasteur/Flickr creative commons

Michigan cut way down on the number of kids with vaccination waivers last year. But now a group of activists, called Michigan Opposing Mandatory Vaccines, is suing the state health department over policies that contributed to that decline.  

A new policy will hopefully help supervisors track any racial profiling
Michigan State Police

State police will now be required to document the race of people they stop.

This change comes after the ACLU of Michigan recently expressed concern about possible racial profiling in an open letter to the Michigan State Police.

State officers have quotas for traffic stops and arrests, but they haven’t been required to document the race of who they stop in their daily electronic logs.

The clinic will take on more cases involving Shaken Baby Syndrome
User anitapatterson / Morguefile / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some parents and caretakers in prison for child abuse may get their cases reopened if the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic believes they were wrongfully convicted for inducing “shaken baby syndrome."

SBS is when a child sustains serious, possibly even deadly, head trauma after being violently shaken. It can cause internal bleeding in the brain and behind the eyes, as well as neck and spinal cord damage.   


Four years after the fungal meningitis outbreak that sickened more than 260 people and killed 19 in Michigan, victims are just now starting to see some compensation.

“Checks are just now starting to come out,” says Marc Lipton, a Southfield attorney who represents dozens of the fungal meningitis patients. “I mean, the very first checks are being issued. And they’re going to be on a rolling basis.”

After Wayne County found some 11,000 abandoned rape kits, a statewide survey found another 1800 around the state

After Wayne County found some 11,000 abandoned rape kits in police storage, Michigan’s Attorney General asked every other county to report how many untested rape kits they had in their property.  

More than 1,800 additional kits were reported, including 327 in Calhoun County.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University received 461 reports of sexual misconduct and relationship violence in the 2015-2016 school year.

That’s way up from the previous year, when the school estimates it got about 200 complaints.

So what’s changed? Jessica Norris, MSU’s Title IX coordinator, says there’s just generally more awareness on campus.

Getting a cyber charter was the only way Livingston Classical Academy could finally open its doors.
Andy Simonds/Flickr

Technically, Livingston Classical Academy is a "cyber school."

In reality, though, the only class that will be online this year is health – which parents will be encouraged to participate in for the more “sensitive discussions.”

A few more online classes will be added next year, like career readiness and nutrition.

If you get a call from someone saying they're police, and they've got a warrant for your arrest, don't give them money.
Sam Carpenter/Flickr

It sounds like a pretty obvious scam: you get a phone call, and then another, both claiming to be from the Ann Arbor police. The callers say there’s a warrant out for your arrest from U.S. Customs and Immigration officials. You can pay $3,000 in iTunes gift cards they say, or go to jail.

If you’re an immigrant, or just unfamiliar with how police operate, this can feel very real, says Ann Arbor Detective Lt. Matt Lige.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When you think Hillsdale College, maybe you think private, well-respected school that makes a lot of Top 10 lists for “Most Conservative Schools.”

Now, Hillsdale is using its brand to help launch a public charter school in Michigan, but the school’s founders are trying to prove to its critics that this new school is neither biased, nor religious.

Lamarr Monson is fighting for a new trial in a 1996 murder case

A Detroit man imprisoned for a brutal killing in 1996 is fighting for a new trial this week.

Lamarr Monson was convicted of murdering a 12-year-old girl, Christina Brown, who may have been his girlfriend and allegedly sold drugs with him. He confessed, but later said police coerced him.

In 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a news conference to announce $4 million to help reduce a backlog in processing thousands of rape kits. Schuette holds a rape kit box.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Since Detroit discovered some 11,000 untested rape kits in 2009, cities around the country have tackled backlogs of their own. 

Recently arrived refugees in Michigan learn english and job training in the same course
flickr user Steven Depolo / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This isn’t the easiest time to come to Michigan as a refugee.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says he’ll sue to stop Syrian refugees from resettling in his county.

Donald Trump’s son is getting slammed for comparing refugees to skittles, saying if even just a “few” can hurt, you shouldn’t take a “handful.”

But for the refugees who’ve just arrived in Michigan, their biggest struggle is finding work, learning English, and rebuilding their lives in a strange country.

The Michigan Union covered in blooming ivy
Wikimedia Commons

Can the court enforce a school’s sanction for sexual assault? And did the University of Michigan deprive a student of his right to due process, when it found him responsible for that assault?

That’s what two separate lawsuits, both filed over the same sexual assault case, are asking this month.

A female student, who’s not being named by Michigan Radio, says she was raped at a frat party back in January.

At first, the school’s investigation ruled in favor of the accused male student. But that decision was overturned by the school’s appeals board.

More than 60 people have been exonerated in Michigan since 1989, according to the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan.
Dave Nakayama/Flickr

There’s a question Dave Moran asks whenever he gives talks about his work at the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic.

"If the state said, ‘We’re going to lock you up for something you didn’t do. We’re going to frame you, or just be sloppy with our job … And then after one year, we’ll announce that we made a mistake and we’ll set you free.’ How much would it take for you to agree to that?

The plaintiffs say older, poor and impoverished people in Flint aren't getting enough water
Flickr user Daniel Orth / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Should a judge force the government to deliver bottled water, door to door, to everybody in Flint?

The Flint water crisis has gone to federal court: a group of activists say the state’s efforts really aren’t reaching a lot of people – especially older, sick, or low-income people.

There’s several plaintiffs here:  a group called the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and a Flint resident/activist named Melissa Mays.

Former lawmaker Todd Courser
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Todd Courser’s 182-page lawsuit is “like a bad dream that won’t go away,” says State House Speaker Kevin Cotter.

“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Courser hasn’t moved on with his life,” Cotter said Monday on Stateside. “But as we saw last week, with the filing of this ridiculous lawsuit, apparently he hasn’t. Unfortunately, additional taxpayer resources will be spent to defend against a very frivolous lawsuit.

Senator Tim Kaine is coming to the University of Michigan on Tuesday
PROjoelrivlin/flickr commons

Senator Tim Kaine is campaigning in Ann Arbor on Tuesday afternoon.

The Democrats' pick for vice president will talk about getting out the vote, especially for younger voters.

Ann Arbor is, of course, pretty liberal leaning, and Kaine will talk to a college crowd at the University of Michigan.

The expanded legislation would protect more people reporting overdoses
Sharyn Morrow / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

People need to be able to report drug overdoses, without being afraid of facing drug possession charges themselves.

That's why lawmakers in Lansing are set to expand the current "Good Samaritan" law this week.

Right now, the law only covers people under 21 -- and even then, only if they're reporting an overdose from prescription drugs.

Those initial protections were a response to the death of a teenager in Southwest Michigan last year, who died of an overdose at a New Year’s Eve party.

The Michigan Marine recruit's suicide came just two weeks after he entered boot camp
Marines on Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Investigations into a Michigan Marine recruit’s suicide reveal he may have been hazed, abused, and possibly targeted for being a Muslim.

Raheel Siddiqui was a young recruit who died in March, just two weeks after arriving at boot camp in South Carolina.  

Three different military investigations found “allegations of recurrent physical and verbal abuse … [and] anomalies and inconsistencies in the policies and procedures responding to suicidal ideation or statements.

One drill sergeant reportedly had a history of abusing Muslim recruits.

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell says the opportunity is a "game-changer" when it comes to how the city approaches its future.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

If you live in the Ann Arbor or Kalamazoo areas, you're getting some new neighbors: Syrian refugees.

More and more refugees have been coming into the state this summer as the federal government rushes to meet its yearly goal. And interfaith groups in both the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area and Kalamazoo got together and said, hey, we want to help.

Recent Michigan grads have some of the highest student loan debt on average
KitAy/Flickr / Wikipedia Creative Commons license

Michigan college students who graduated in 2014 had $29,450 in student loan debt on average – the ninth highest in the nation, according to a new study from the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Premature babies can benefit from donated or purchased breast milk
Sarah Hopkins / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Selling or donating human breast milk would be regulated by the state, and distributing “adulterated” breast milk would be a crime, under bills proposed by state Rep. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor.

Detroit City Skyline
user Bernt Rostad / flickr

Some hopeful news for Detroiters frustrated with the city's bus system: the city’s making the biggest expansion to its bus system in 20 years, according to the mayor’s office.

If you've ever tried to take the bus to get to work in Detroit, you know it can run late, and it’s got a stubborn reputation for being unreliable.

The city's hiring 80 new bus drivers and establishing more 24-hour service. New express routes should cut some commutes by 30 minutes each way, according to the city.

The guidelines have been controversial, but the board president expects them to pass this month
user Marlith / Flickr

Transgender students in Michigan should be able to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that fit their gender identity.

That's what the state school board will advise in its finalized guidelines later this month, says board President John Austin.

These guidelines are totally optional for schools – but even so, they’ve been controversial, with a draft version drawing some 13,000 public comments online.