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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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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Arts & Culture
10:32 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Detroit's artists on love, heartbreak, and sext messages

Childhood valentines on display.
Melanie Kruvelis Michigan Radio

By now you've hopefully recovered from your Valentine's weekend.

Maybe you spent it with a hot date, or just curled up in pajamas binge-watching "House of Cards."

In Detroit, you could have checked out an art show about love and heartbreak. It's made up entirely of people's breakup emails, sext messages, tween diary entries, and love letters.

And if that sounds cringe-worthy, you're right.

Anonymous submissions, from prison letters to breakup emails 

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Arts & Culture
6:07 am
Mon January 27, 2014

After cutting arts teachers, schools adjust to new normal in Lansing

Lansing elementary students lost their art and music specialists last year.
Navy Hale Keiki School flickr.com

Hear what art class is like...after the art teachers are gone.

Last year, Lansing public school officials laid off all their elementary art and music teachers.

The move got national attention from outraged educators and arts groups.

Now, almost a year after the layoffs were announced, Lansing students and teachers are getting used to the new normal.

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Arts & Culture
6:12 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Why images of strangers make us feel less alone

A photo from Humans of Ann Arbor's Facebook page. It has 4,380 likes.
Susan K. Campbell

Full audio's above, if you really want to feel the awkwardness, and awesomeness, of asking strangers if you can take their picture.

If you’re walking around Ann Arbor or Detroit these days, you should know:  a total stranger may come up and ask to take your picture.

They’ll snap a few shots. Maybe ask how your day is going.

Then they’ll post it all on Facebook. And hundreds, possibly even thousands of people will see it.

That’s because two photographers – one in each city – are building a growing fan base around these daily street photos.

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Arts & Culture
7:48 am
Tue January 14, 2014

DIA supporters seek $170 million more to save Detroit's art and pensions

The Detroit Institute of Arts wants to strike a "grand bargain" to save itself.
DIA

This next story is a call to anybody with $170 million to spare.

And a major fondness for art.

By now, you’ve heard about the group of philanthropists who’ve raised $330 million to strike a “grand bargain” with Detroit’s creditors.

Their goal is to raise half a billion dollars to save city-owned art at the Detroit Institute of Arts from being sold off in the city’s bankruptcy.

But that grand bargain may still require a small miracle.

Fair or not, bankruptcy pitting art against pensioners

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Weather
1:10 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Meet Michigan's homeless, trying to survive this cold

These arctic nights can be deadly if you don't have a place to sleep.
cdc.gov cdc.gov

A laid-off public school teacher, an evicted retiree, and a man who says he'll sleep on a park bench because he’s too drunk to pass the shelter’s Breathalyzer test tonight.  

The people at a daytime warming center in downtown Ann Arbor run the gamut. 

There's the guy with weathered skin and stained teeth who says he's been sober more than a month now.

Sherman Stennis says he lost his job at his uncle's scrapyard when it went out of business.

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Arts & Culture
6:00 am
Mon December 16, 2013

South African children's choir brings big voices to Michigan

The Key of Hope children's choir takes the stage in Michigan this month. That girl in the center? You've got to hear her sing.
Rebecca Guerriero Michigan Radio

Hear from the kids themselves - and get more of their music - by listening to the full story.

This next story seems right for this time of year.

A children's choir is in Michigan this month ... from South Africa.

They're from the outskirts of Durban, a beautiful port city that also has one of the worst AIDS epidemics in the world.

Many of the kids in the choir are orphans. Several have HIV themselves.

It's their first time in the U.S., and they're traveling around the state all this month to raise money for friends and family back home.

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Arts & Culture
3:24 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

After 42 years, the hero of Detroit's Opera steps aside

David DiChiera has made the Michigan Opera Theatre his life's work. Now, he'll be handing some of those reins off to a new CEO.
http://www.michiganopera.org/leadership/david-dichiera/ Michigan Opera Theatre

The man who helped turn the Michigan Opera Theatre into one of Detroit's most prestigious arts centers, is stepping aside as general director after 42 years.

David DiChiera is an institution in Detroit: he started the Opera in 1971 and he's been running it ever since.

And it's thanks to his fundraising efforts that Detroit even still HAS an Opera, given how hard the recession hit the arts.

Now DiChiera is 78, has prostate cancer, and is bringing in a new president and  CEO to run the financial side.

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Health
7:31 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Why this 20 year old is getting a mastectomy, and why she's not alone

Kelly Rothe and her younger sister, Samantha. They're holding a letter written for Kelly by their mother before she died.
Kate Wells Michigan Radio

Hear the full story above.

For most of her life, Kelly Rothe believed she was going to die of breast cancer.  

"It's all we knew. When everyone in your life gets sick, you just assume it's going to happen to you," she says. 

Rothe was just six years old when her mom was diagnosed. 

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Health
11:40 am
Fri November 29, 2013

High fat diets may speed up breast cancer development

We're sorry to spring this one on you after you've just finished feasting
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. 

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Law
3:56 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

What really happened the night Renisha McBride died?

Pallbearers carry Renisha McBride's casket.

Hear the full story above.

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.

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