Kate Wells

Arts, Culture & Education Reporter/Producer

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.   

Juan Flores

Anyone who’s ever been stuck on campus for Thanksgiving knows it’s kind of depressing.

“Just seeing everybody leaving with their luggage, and you’re left behind, you know it’s going to be a long weekend,” says Denise Cruz, a senior at Michigan State University.  “And it does make you feel a bit out of place. Like you have nowhere to go.”

Kate Wells

In metro Detroit, several Garden City families are fighting eviction, after they say their homes were wrongfully foreclosed and sold to the city.

Garden City bought 17 foreclosed home from Wayne County this year, before the houses went to public auction. But the city didn’t tell residents their homes had been purchased, and then resold the houses to a private development company.  

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

When composer Todd Machover asked Detroiters to send in sounds of their city to help create a "sonic portrait" of Detroit, he wasn't expecting 15,000 submissions.

But that's what he got.

Bytemarks / flickr

In 2016,  the U.S. economy will grow at the fastest pace in 10 years, according to the University of Michigan's annual economic forecast.

They're also predicting annual unemployment will drop below 5% next year, for the first time since 2007.

The forecasters say nearly five million new jobs will be added over the next couple of years, which could be especially good news for part-time workers seeking full-time jobs.

Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Oakland County’s top elected official, L. Brooks Patterson, is demanding the city of Pontiac stop a new housing development and community center being built for Syrian refugees.

Patterson says accepting any Syrian refugees carries an “immediate threat of imminent danger” after the recent attacks in Paris – even though it’s unclear whether any of the attackers were Syrian refugees.

In fact, Patterson says he'd like the U.S. to stop accepting any refugees or tourists from anywhere in the Middle East.

Tom Kowalczk, CLUE


 The U.S. Coast Guard is moving ahead – very, very carefully, it says – with  plans to recover hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel from a sunken barge that's been sitting at the bottom of Lake Erie for more than 70 years.

The barge is believed to be the Argo, which sank in the 1930s and was reportedly carrying some 200,000 gallons of petroleum products, including crude oil. 

For years, no one was sure exactly where the Argo went down, until shipwreck hunters discovered it this summer.

Dearborn Mosque
user rypix / Flickr

Dearborn’s large Lebanese community continues to grieve those it lost in Thursday’s twin suicide bombings in Beirut.

“You’ve never seen a wife and husband love each other so much,” says Dearborn resident Mehdi Taleb of his sister, Leila Taleb, and her husband Hussein Mostapha.

Triin Q / wikipedia commons

Casino workers go back to the bargaining table in Detroit this weekend, as city leaders keep a close eye on negotiations.

That’s because a major strike could cripple casinos, which are a huge source of tax revenue for Detroit.

Already Detroit’s thousands of casino employees - not just the card dealers and floor workers, but people in wardrobe, guest services, kitchens, valet services- have given union leaders approval to call a strike if necessary.

That same leadership turned down a contract proposal from MGM Grand, Motor City Casino and Greektown earlier this week.

Kate Wells

A couple hundred University of Michigan students came out to central campus Wednesday evening in a passionate show of support for protesters at the University of Missouri.

As the crowd grew, one organizer from the U of M School of Social Work said black students at the University of Michigan can empathize with the experiences, and the feelings of frustration and isolation, that Mizzou students are voicing.

Neeta Lind / Flickr

Michigan police are weighing in on state proposals to officially recognize – and regulate – medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Michigan House already passed a bill to create a new framework for who grows, transports, and sells marijuana to these storefronts – sometimes called a “seed-to-sale” tracking system.

Wikimedia Commons

Students, faculty and staff talked about their frustrations – from who gets tenure, to recruiting Detroit students, to what it feels like to be one of the few black students on campus – at a "community assembly” on campus diversity today.

The event was moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Clarence Page, of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board. Community members were invited to share their own experiences and goals for the university.

Sixty days.  That’s how long universities are supposed to take to investigate sexual assault cases.

But at Michigan State University, those investigations can drag on for seven, eight, even nine months.

A recent federal report slammed MSU for taking too long to resolve sexual assault cases.

But a Michigan Radio investigation has found the problems at MSU go far deeper than that. 

Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Candidates and special interests spent almost $10 million trying to sway voters ahead of the 2014 Michigan Supreme Court elections.

That makes Michigan’s court races the most expensive in the U.S., according to a new report from a group called Justice at Stake, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

So where did all that money come from?  

Wikimedia Commons

Just fix the roads already.

That's what some Michigan business leaders are all but begging Lansing to do, even if means getting behind $600 million in new taxes and fees.

But they say  that’s how bad the roads are.

"I hope that's the message that the legislators hear, that it is just that important. Because we don't take this lightly,” says Rick Baker, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

His group and six other chambers – mostly from West Michigan – put out a statement today demanding Lansing take “immediate action on roads.”

There are still so many questions.

On Wednesday, Leonard Seawood released a statement about his resignation as superintendent of Benton Harbor Area Schools.


Now that more than 10,000 of Detroit’s backlogged rape kits have finally been tested for DNA evidence, there’s good news and bad news.

The good (really good) news is that DNA evidence has already turned up some 2,600 hits in the FBI’s national criminal database, called CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).

The statue of Orville Hubbard at Dearborn City Hall was taken down today.
Anne B. Hood

Updated at 5:30 pm The city of Dearborn quietly removed a controversial statue of former mayor Orville Hubbard this morning. 

For years, the 10-foot-tall bronze monument stood outside of the City Hall building. 

Now, it’s on its way to the Dearborn Historical Museum.

Hubbard, who ran the city for more than three decades, from the 1940s through the late 1970s, was an outspoken supporter of segregation. 

Jeremy Peters

You don't hear a lot of hot, danceable tracks about gentrification.

But Detroit emcee/slam poet/teacher Mic Write writes ear worms about the city’s evolution, his pride in its unsung neighborhoods, and how good it feels to disprove anyone who didn’t expect much of a kid from the D.

Wikimedia Commons

  Nearly 1 in 4 college women experience some form of sexual assault, according to a new survey from the Association of American Universities.

The survey polled 150,000 students at 27 schools, including the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

And what’s interesting is that this survey indicates that sexual assault on campus may be even more prevalent than other, widely-cited studies suggest – for instance, the White House’s “Not Alone” campaign says 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college.

Wikimedia Commons

The University of Michigan has agreed to erase the findings of a sexual assault investigation against Drew Sterrett, a former student. In exchange, Sterrett will drop a lawsuit he filed against the university.

Sterrett’s case has made him kind of a poster boy for critics who feel universities are overcorrecting on college rape, with a lawsuit that details all kinds of alleged flaws in the school’s investigation process – like failing to include evidence from a roommate who was present while the sexual incident occurred.  

So far, fewer Michigan kids are getting vaccine waivers. But some parents may be waiting until schools kick kids out.

Christina Karpinski is getting a little worried.

She's the immunizations coordinator for Washtenaw County, and she knows there are hundreds of families out there who still need vaccine waivers for their kids.

But even though school started this week, those parents just aren't showing up.


Zachary Anderson will get a new sentence.

The 19-year-old’s case has stirred national debate, after the Indiana teen was sentenced to 90 days in jail, five years of probation, and put on the sex offender registry for 25 years in both Michigan and Indiana.

His crime: having sex with a 14-year-old Michigan girl he met online, who told him she was 17 and registered in the adult section of the online dating app.

During sentencing, both the girl and her mother asked Berrien County Judge Dennis Wiley not to punish Anderson.    


Colleges are now legally required to train new students about sexual assault prevention and awareness.

That’s part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.  

And it turns out the training at Central Michigan University has been pretty popular for a while now.  

A lot of other colleges have hired CMU’s training group. The Navy even brought them to instruct groups of sailors and Marines.

So we thought, what better time to check it out?  


This story was updated with a response from MSU at 5:05 pm on 9/2/15

Students started complaining about sexual harassment from a Michigan State University counselor – who was at times working with students seeking sexual assault counseling – back in 2009.

Michigan State University’s response was to hold a meeting between one of those students and the counselor.

This story was updated at 3:03 pm on 9/1/15 

The US Department of Education has finished its investigation into whether Michigan State University mishandled two complaints of sexual assault.

In their report released today, the DOE says MSU's "investigations of both complaints ultimately were thorough and equitable."


Right now, college freshman around the state are getting training about sexual assault on campus.

At Central Michigan University, that even means going into the profile of perpetrators who commit acquaintance rape.

Ann Arbor Public Schools

The one-year contract gives all teachers a small pay bump, and the union and the district agree that teachers have now gotten most of the back pay they were promised when they took previous wage cuts. 

The school district says the new contract also officially puts the district in compliance with recent state laws, which say that the union can’t bargain over certain “prohibited” subjects, including:


This is the first new school year that parents have to attend vaccination education sessions at their county health department, if they want a vaccination waiver for kids going into preschool, kindergarten, or seventh grade. 

Because Michigan has one of the highest waiver rates in the country, the idea is to make it less convenient to get those waivers.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This year, freshman at the University of Michigan face a new consequence if they violate the school’s drug and alcohol policy: Mom and Dad.

Michigan announced today it’s piloting a new policy, alerting parents of first-year students under the age of 21 if:

Kate Wells

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez spent an hour in Detroit today speaking with a small group of fast-food servers, home health care workers, gas station clerks and other minimum-wage earners. 

The workers are with "Detroit 15" – a local group that's part of the national push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Sitting next to Mayor Mike Duggan, Perez praised the workers, repeatedly comparing their cause to the civil rights movement.