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.   

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.

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: 

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.

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 

Navy Hale Keiki School / flickr.com

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.

Susan K. Campbell

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.

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

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.

Rebecca Guerriero / Michigan Radio

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.

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.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

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. 

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. 

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.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, Royal Oak will be the latest city in Michigan to decide whether discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people should be illegal.

Both sides say it’s going to be thisclose, with voters split just about down the middle.

Opponents of the proposal are plenty motivated – just the fact that Royal Oak is having this vote is because of their hustle.

It’s their ability to collect more than the required 746 petitions that put this on the ballot in the first place.

Group says vote “no” to protect Royal Oak’s businesses

Photo courtesy of the Project's facebook page

Hundreds of volunteers patrolled the streets of Detroit last night and will do so again tonight.

With flashing lights on their car roofs and maps pointing out abandoned buildings, they drove slowly, looking for arsonists.

Halloween in Detroit used to mean lots of fires: some 800 buildings blazed in the mid 1990's, when Devil's Night was at its peak. 

The city became infamous for these arson sprees, with reporters flying in from as far away as Japan and Australia to cover the chaos. 

"The 2012 Supreme Court campaign was the most expensive and least transparent in history."

Yikes. 

That's the unflattering takeaway from a new report from a consortium of groups like the Brennan Center for Justice and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 

Of the $19 million dollars poured into the state's Supreme Court races, $13 million went to ads like the following.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Every time we see still another story about school violence, we ask the same question: why wasn’t anyone able to stop it?

With still more school violence in the news this week, three Michigan school districts are splitting a $2 million grant to spot and treat mental illness in students.

Saginaw, Houghton Lake and Detroit’s Education Achievement Authority are getting this aid specifically because they're struggling with student mental health or safety issues, according to state and local data.

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.  

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. 

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

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.

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.

Grocery cart
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.

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.

morguefile / morguefile.com

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Artprize

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

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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