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
5:15 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

ArtPod talks fashion, fat, and freaky art

One of the burlesque dancers at Theatre Bizarre.
Kate Wells Michigan Radio

At ArtPod, we love a good party. 

If that party also happens to be a jaw-dropping, massive immersive art experience (and did we mention semi-naked people?) with more than 2,000 attendees, some 350 performers, and crazy burlesque, then we really love it.

So grab a cocktail and let us take you inside Theatre Bizarre, the annual masquerade in Detroit's Masonic Temple that draws thousands of people and global attention each year.  

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Politics & Government
6:05 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Banning Bridge cards in strip clubs, liquor stores and casinos ?

Michigan's Bridge Card, which provides food and cash assistance benefits.

Bridge card users could soon be unable to get cash out of ATMs inside strip clubs, some liquor stores, and casinos.  That's the idea behind a package of bills the state Senate passed today. 

Bridge cards are mostly associated with food assistance, but they also let families with kids get temporary cash assistance for things like child care and rent. 

So what happens if you live in a rural or urban area where the only ATM is in a liquor store? 

That's what state Sen. Morris Hood (D-Detroit) says he's worried about. 

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Arts & Culture
10:45 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Sex, art and carnies: Detroit's Theatre Bizarre

Walking into Theatre Bizarre, this guy is there to greet you.
Kate Wells Michigan Radio

Whips and punk rock and burlesque. It's better with sound.

This past weekend, more than 2,000 people in Detroit attended the annual, one-night-only masquerade called Theatre Bizarre.

The event transforms the city’s Masonic Temple into a dream world of S&M, punk rock, grandmothers in leather and carnival sideshows.

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Law
12:50 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

If judge gives ok, same-sex couples ready to marry... fast

April DeBoer is suing the state over the same-sex marriage and adoption ban.
DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

It’s a long shot, but there is a chance.

If federal Judge Bernard Friedman overturns the same-sex marriage ban tomorrow, that could open a small window for Michigan’s same-sex couples to legally marry in this state.

How small would that window be? Teeny. Maybe just a few hours, maybe days.

That’s because a ruling against the marriage ban would be almost immediately appealed by Michigan’s attorney general, Bill Schuette. He’d also ask the appeals court to put a temporary freeze on Friedman’s ruling until the higher court decides the case.

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Politics & Government
1:32 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Michigan food assistance programs hearing from worried clients

In just one county, 5,000 families get federal help buying healthy food for their kids
user mytvdinner Flickr

The federal shutdown is hitting struggling Michigan families where they live.

At first, panicked calls flooded into Washtenaw County health services, says Karen Lewis.

She helps run the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC), which help low-income moms get milk, bread, vegetables and fruit for their kids.

Every month, the county serves some 5,000 families who look to WIC, says Lewis.

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Arts & Culture
12:31 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

DIA running out of options to avoid partial liquidation

Got $500 million to spare? The DIA is looking.
DIA

Editor's note: we added a little more information about why the DIA is in this position in the first place. Basically, Detroit's bankrupt.  

There's a growing list of things the DIA has tried and failed to protect its collection from a partial liquidation, if Detroit decides to sell the art in order to help dig the bankrupt city out of debt. 

DIA leaders have called up big donors.

Pitched to local foundations and corporations.

They’ve even asked other museums as far away as the Middle East to rent some of the DIA’s collections.

So far, nothing's worked.

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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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