Kate Wells | Michigan Radio

Kate Wells


Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist and co-host of the Michigan Radio and NPR podcast Believed. The series was widely ranked among the best of the year, drawing millions of downloads and numerous awards. She and co-host Lindsey Smith received the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Judges described their work as "a haunting and multifaceted account of U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s belated arrest and an intimate look at how an army of women – a detective, a prosecutor and survivors – brought down the serial sex offender."

Wells and her family live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Elissa Slotkin
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

“This is gonna be a really tough seat to win back,” Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett told four of the Republicans vying to take on Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin in 2020. This is going to be an expensive race, Barnett said, before asking the panel of four relatively unknown candidates about electability. “How can you win?”

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

“You’re all brave for coming out here,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel jokingly told a small, but packed, hall of mostly students at Michigan State University on Wednesday night. “I know you’re not the most popular kids on campus, being Republicans,” she added. “I see you with your Keep America Great hat! That’s awesome.” 

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

About 100 gun rights supporters rallied on the steps of the state Capitol building in solidarity with Virginia, as a lineup of speakers warned the heavily-armed crowd that the gun control measures proposed in that state could happen in Michigan, too.

“They could literally be at our doorstep tomorrow here in Michigan with those same bills,” said DeeDee Dubose, one of the event’s organizers from Jackson. “That’s why we’re here to stand with Virginia, and our people saying, 'No, no, no, that’s not right.’”

Michigan Department of Corrections

Update: January 17, 2020 at 6:24 p.m.  

Former Central Michigan University student Ian Elliott pleaded no contest to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct on Friday.

That's a lesser charge than what Elliott initially pleaded to last summer.

But the Michigan Attorney General's Office agreed to let Elliott withdraw his previous plea.

GM towers
Elishia Jayye / Unsplash

There won’t be a national recession in the next couple of years, and Michigan should see some moderate job growth, continued low unemployment, and even a rise in local incomes. At least, that’s what economists from the University of Michigan are predicting in their big 2020 forecast, which they presented to Lansing in November.

Flint school lockers
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Updated January 3, 2020: A spokesperson for Flint Community Schools sent the following statement, attributed to FCS Superintendent Derrick Lopez:   “The Flint Community Schools District is deeply committed to the well-being and success of all students. In keeping with District policy, we will not be commenting on pending litigation.” Requests for comment to the Michigan Department of Education were directed to the Attorney General's office, which has not yet responded at this time. 


A new referral system sends Detroit schools an automatic alert when one of its students enters a homeless shelter. Advocates say it’s a simple but critical step, because they believe Detroit is drastically undercounting the number of students who are homeless. 

Michigan State Spartans
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio


State Attorney General Dana Nessel says she's committed to investigating Michigan State University's role in Larry Nassar's serial sexual abuse. 

Nessel says comments from a spokesperson in her office that the investigation was suspended were "inadvertently misleading."

Jeffrey M. Smith/School of Information

Turns out, we may not actually want driverless cars to drive like us. That’s according to researchers at the University of Michigan, who say they’ve found three core “personality” traits autonomous vehicles need to have to make people feel safer with them - even if they themselves don’t have those same traits.

Getting people to trust, and use, driverless cars

VapeClubMY via Unsplash

Even as e-cigarette makers pledge to combat the rise in youth vaping, a new study from the University of Michigan shows the rate of teen users who start by age 14 has tripled in recent years.

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

It’s a quiet winter morning at Neithercut Elementary in Flint, and the kids in Theresa Skene’s kindergarten class are munching contentedly on their school breakfasts: milk, Froot Loops, strawberry yogurt, some kind of strudel stick wrapped in plastic. Mindfulness music (as Mrs. Skene calls it) plays softly in the room, as she stops at one boy’s desk to praise him for cleaning up a spill.  

City of Flint Water Plant
Adobe Stock

Flint's newly-elected mayor, Sheldon Neeley, says it appears the city's water fund doesn't have a deficit, as previously projected. Rather, there's a $20 million balance for the 2020 fiscal year. 

With less than a month on the job, newly elected Mayor Sheldon Neeley says it's pretty clear the previous financial department was, as he puts it, "anemic, to say the least. They really had no capacity...no quality control element."

He says it looks like they just used estimates and projections for years, rather than what money was actually coming in and going out. 

One night in mid-August, Rachel Wilson decided she needed to make a secret phone recording. 

Because things had gotten really bad. 

“I want to help you!” Wilson can be heard yelling on the tape. “But then you send me a text like that, that’s like, ‘Come shoot me!’  And I know that you have a gun! Do you know what that does to someone when they see that on their phone?"

Dana Nessel
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

There's been a major shakeup in the case of a former Central Michigan University student who was convicted of sexual assault this summer.

On August 2nd, Ian Elliott pleaded "no contest" to assaulting fellow student Rachel Wilson, and was sentenced to one year in prison.

But the prosecutor in the case, Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej, resigned the next month for having an "inappropriate relationship" with Wilson, the victim. 

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

More than 4,000 undergraduate women were sexually assaulted at Michigan State University during the 2018-2019 academic year, according to a newly released campus survey. 


With more than 15,000 students, faculty and staff sharing their experiences with sexual assault, harassment, and their level of trust in the university to handle those issues, the results give school leaders hard numbers about a problem that still plagues the school long after Larry Nassar was sentenced to prison. 


Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

"It seems like we're going to be able to count tonight as a win, for the district and for the district's children," campaign committee treasurer Steve Norton told a small crowd of about 20 Ann Arbor school administrators, board members, and supporters, who broke into applause at a downtown pizza place late Tuesday evening.

Jacob Lund/Adobe Stock

Zach Gorchow knows his bonds, ok?

As editor of Gongwer News Service in Lansing, it’s his team’s job to comb through every bond on ballots across the state for analysis. If it’s more than $50 million, that’s a big deal. And if it’s more than $100 million, they’ll really sit up and take notice.

“And so then, when I saw the Ann Arbor one was at $1 billion, I mean, my eyes definitely widened, you know?” Gorchow says. “We haven’t seen anything like this, since we’ve been tracking this stuff.” 

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

Scientists still aren’t sure why women are diagnosed with depression at nearly twice the rate of men: probably some mix of hormones, life experiences, and biology, is the going theory. 

Then, this month, researchers at Michigan State University announced they’ve identified a mechanism in the brain that makes female mice get depressed when they’re stressed out, but not male mice. 

nancy Schlichting
Michigan State University

One of Michigan State University's trustees is quitting over the board's decision not to independently investigate the Larry Nassar case, and because the university won't release some 6,000 privileged documents about the case.

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

“Here’s the question that even I have difficulty with: are you having thoughts of suicide?” Frank King told a crowded room in Lansing on Tuesday. An estimated 500 students, school counselors, and other educators came in from across the state for a Student Mental Health Summit, where the focus ranged from social media to the impact of putting therapists in schools. 

Nicole Honeywell for Unsplash.com

One year into a state turnaround program, some of Michigan's lowest-performing schools are showing improvement.

elementary students in a classroom
Credit Tom McKee, Whitefish Township School District

Tom McKee is having some hard conversations right now. 

“Do we eliminate our elementary school? That means we put our kids on a bus for two hours one way to get to the nearest school,” says the Superintendent of Whitefish Township School District.

Spanning 270 square miles, the remote district has just 53 students, McKee says. “Do we eliminate our high school? Same thing, putting our kids on the bus, two hours one way.” 

Johnny McClung via Unsplash

Kelly Mickel is alone, in her office, at four p.m. on a Tuesday.


It’s a freaking miracle. 


Most days, the principal at Erickson Elementary in Ypsilanti barely gets a moment to breathe, much less eat lunch (unless she’s eating a school lunch with a student, “either as a reward or sometimes as a consequence”). Usually, lunch is a piece of fruit, or something from home that sits on her desk most of the afternoon.


Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

A high school football coach and teacher has agreed to resign and will receive $20,000 as part of a settlement with the Hanover-Horton school district. That’s after a district investigation found it “more likely than not” Coach Johnnie Stewart engaged in a sexual relationship with a former student some 20 years ago, beginning when the student was 16 years old.


Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office issued a subpoena Tuesday to a small, New York-based startup that’s getting plenty of press for marketing an at-home, DIY sexual assault forensic medical exam. 

The 16th Circuit Court Building in Mt. Clemens, Michigan.

More than a year before ex-Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej resigned for having an “inappropriate relationship” with a sexual assault victim in one of his cases, his previous employer, the Macomb County Prosecutor, moved him off the Child Protection and Sex Crimes unit. 

Michigan State University

Updated September 12 at 9:30 am: Michigan State University placed Tomas Hult, a marketing professor and director of the MSU International Business Center, on administrative suspension following complaints of sexual harassment.

A Title IX investigation cleared Hult, saying his sexual comments and inappropriate behavior didn’t violate the school’s harassment policy.

Updated September 10, 6:45 p.m.: A state sex crimes prosecutor is now the one under criminal investigation.

On Thursday, the Michigan State Police notified the state Attorney General that Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej “had allegedly engaged in an intimate relationship with one of the victims” in a high-profile sexual assault case involving Central Michigan University students.

Kolodziej resigned on Friday after admitting to the relationship, which he says began in April of 2019 and continued through August.  

Rachel Denhollander
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Updated September 10, 11:18 am: MSU President Samuel Stanley is declining a call from some Larry Nassar survivors to restart an independent investigation, after the Board of Trustees announced it was "pausing" that investigation on Friday.

A section of the River Raisin near Monroe.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state is retesting drinking water in several Southeast Michigan communities this week. That's after a recent test in the River Raisin watershed found extremely high levels of PFAS. This was at the intake area at the Deerfield water filtration plant.