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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Arts & Culture
12:18 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Artpod knows what you need to be reading right now

Good books for fall? We got 'em.
morguefile morguefile.com

We've got crime novels, an-American-in-Sweden memoir, and a frosty Upper Peninsula novel to warm up chilly evenings.

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.

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Arts & Culture
9:00 am
Fri October 4, 2013

New DIA exhibit on animation gets weird. And it's great.

It's animation, sure. But it's not always family friendly.
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.

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Arts & Culture
7:00 am
Thu October 3, 2013

When a wounded vet designs clothing, it looks like this

Tyler Way and Michael Hyacinthe, co-founders of Fashion Has Heart.
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.

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Education
12:30 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

On count day, all eyes on Detroit Public Schools

The district wants to improve. But they need students, and state money, to really make a change.
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.

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Arts & Culture
5:05 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Yes, even ArtPrize affected by potential federal shutdown

Anni Crouter is in the top 10, and she won't let a government shutdown stand in her way of winning.
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.

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Arts & Culture
7:33 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Top 10 finalists of ArtPrize announced

Tired Panda is one of this year's 10 finalists
Artprize

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

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Health
12:02 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

See how much you could pay for insurance in Michigan under Affordable Care Act

We've got a snapshot of what families, young adults, and really sick people may expect
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.

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Law
7:53 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Michigan birth control battle could be headed to the US Supreme Court

A Catholic political group is championing this Michigan case as it potentially heads to the Supreme Court.
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.

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Arts & Culture
4:25 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

When it comes to DIA rumors, here's what's really true

Let's tackle three rumors about what could happen to the DIA.
Flickr

Hear the full story above. It has more sound effects than the web-only version!

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.

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Economy
1:41 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

One investment fund bets big on Michigan

Stein moved his company's HQ from LA to Grand Rapids
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.

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Arts & Culture
11:57 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Detroit after dark: a photographer, his dog, and a pickup truck

Bruce Giffin photography

Take a night ride through the city with photographer Bruce Giffin.

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.

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Education
6:01 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Facing cuts, 'a district like Ann Arbor could go into default'

District spokesperson Liz Margolis says bankruptcy "is not something we want to happen, ever ever. But we're getting close."
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."

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Arts & Culture
5:52 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

ArtPod has musicals, murder, and Motown

This guy is amped for ArtPod. Or, this photo is just a ploy to get you to listen to ArtPod. But which one?!
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. 

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Environment & Science
1:37 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Ann Arbor, facing water contamination, urges state to step up

A government map the water contamination
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.

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Politics & Government
3:02 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Bankruptcy judge to rule whether Snyder can be made to testify

Should the Governor have to testify under oath? That's what the judge will decide.
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.

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Arts & Culture
12:38 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

New play looks at cancer in college

Alex Kip was diagnosed with cancer his senior year in college.
AKip Productions http://akipprod.com/about.html

Love, pot brownies, and the full story here.

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.

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Education
8:46 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Time's running out to get 5,000 new kids to DPS

DPS built their whole budget on the bet they can lure 5,000 new kids to the district. Now, time is almost up.
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. 

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Arts & Culture
5:23 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

ArtPod bids farewell to summer & to one of Michigan's great writers

Summer's almost over and we are not happy about that.
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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Arts & Culture
11:49 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Remembering Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard died yesterday from complications from a stoke.
Linda Solomon HarperCollins Publishers

Detroit lost one of its greats yesterday.

Elmore Leonard, 87, will be remembered as the writer who rehabbed the Western, wrote great bad guys, and saw his stories made into movies like "3:10 to Yuma" and "Get Shorty."

So in honor of one of America’s most prolific crime writer, we're going to take a tip from the man himself: show, don’t tell.

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Arts & Culture
2:18 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

In this Traverse City gallery, strong drinks but "no watercolors of cherries"

Art in the InsideOut gallery
Kate Wells Michigan Radio

If you’re a local in Northern Michigan, especially in a tourist town, you need a few places that are all your own.

That dive bar visitors don’t know. The private beach that’s hidden away.

For Traverse City residents, one place like that is the InsideOut art gallery.

First thing you do there is get a drink at the cocktail bar.

Then, you head to the patio that has no view of the lake (which, hey, no tourists!)

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