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Booyah Hike Across America

ESPN Loses Over a Half Million Subscribers

by Dylan Gwinn

The Nielsen estimates revealed that ESPN lost 555,000 subscribers during the last month.

In other words, ESPN essentially lost the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This, coming on the heels of last month, the worst month in ESPN history, where the network lost 621,000 subscribers.

In the last two months, ESPN has lost 1,176,000 subscribers, a subscriber loss nearly the size of the city of Dallas, Texas. ESPN currently has just over 88 million domestic subscribers. In 2013, a mere three years ago, ESPN had 99 million subscribers. That’s right, in the last three years, ESPN lost somewhere in the neighborhood of ten million subscribers, the rough equivalent of the combined populations of New York City and Phoenix.

Now, in fairness, ESPN has contested the subscriber estimates that Nielsen put forth, citing the omission of multiple factors, including streaming services and digital device numbers. However, if the Nielsen numbers even remotely approximate the true subscriber loss, it means ESPN has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue over the last three years alone and if the trend continues, is well on its way to collapse.

Certainly, the chord cutting phenomenon that has hit networks across cable television has a definite impact on ESPN. Though, that’s not the entire explanation for the network’s cratering subscriber base. ESPN Ombudsman Jim Brady, admitted that the network lurched way too far to the left in recent years, alienating many viewers.

There’s also evidence of that in these numbers. According to Deadline Hollywood, “Disney’s other sports channels fared better. ESPNU had 71 million subs, down 1.4%. ESPNEWS and SEC Network — not measured by Nielsen — were flat based on December data from SNL Kagan. The former had 70 million subs and the latter had 62 million.”

What do ESPNU, ESPNEWS, and the SEC Network all have in common? They are, by far, the least opinion-driven and ideological of all the ESPN channels. ESPN’s slate of uber-opinionated, radically leftist programs such as Around the Horn, First Take, Pardon the Interruption, His & Hers, and others all appear on ESPN or ESPN2, the channels which have seen the greatest decline.

ESPNU, ESPNEWS, and the SEC Network primarily feature sporting events, simulcast radio shows, or straight news reporting with very little opinion, or, at least very little political opinion. Those channels have either marginally declined or stayed flat.

Something tells me there’s a message there.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn

South Florida family's missing dog found three years later -- in New Jersey

Bill Gerstein couldn't believe it. Words he never thought he'd read were right there on his phone: Bella has been found.

Nearly three years after disappearing outside Gerstein's law office in Fort Lauderdale, the family's Maltese-Pomeranian mix was in an animal shelter in Paterson, New Jersey — about 1,200 miles from home. The shelter, which had checked Bella's microchip, sent him pictures. She looked ratty, her coat was in rough shape, but it was her. Gerstein got on a plane that day.

"It was jubilant for us to finally get her back," Gerstein, 45, said Tuesday, as Bella scampered about the living room, still getting acquainted with the family's other two inseparable dogs, Maya and Lily, two Cavapoos who became new additions while Bella was still missing. Bella occasionally growls and bares her teeth at Maya, who tends to avoid eye contact with Bella.

"I didn't have any realistic hope of seeing her again," Gerstein said. "The possibilities were endless: She could've been killed, she could've wandered into a swamp near our office."

Fortunately, Bella didn't wander into a swamp, but how she got to New Jersey is a mystery. Gerstein, whose immigration law office is near Commercial Boulevard and NW 31st Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, regularly brought Bella to work, and that's where she was last seen.

"She was the office dog," said Gerstein's wife Dori, 46, also a lawyer.

On the day Bella went missing, Dec. 13, 2013, Gerstein was on a work call on his cellphone as the dog conducted her own business outside the law office. Gerstein said he was distracted and went back inside to do some more work. About an hour later, he wondered where Bella was and couldn't find her. An extensive search was mounted. Posters were put up, police were called, and a Facebook page was created. All to no avail.

Gerstein also watched surveillance video of the parking lot outside his office. There was a car parked across several spaces, and as it drove away, Gerstein noticed something white moving in the vehicle. 

He talked to police, who looked into it and determined the owner of the car didn't have the dog and that the white movement might have just been sunlight hitting the car's windows.

The Gersteins' four children, Michael, now 17, Sarah, 15, Sean, 13, and Emma, 6, took the news hard. 

Particularly Emma, who was 3 at the time. She would often talk about Bella, and would sometimes cry and say she missed Bella well after the dog was gone.

Gerstein missed Bella too. So when he got the email just after 10 a.m. on Nov. 22 from Petkey, the pet recovery service for the microchip implanted under Bella's skin, saying the dog was at Paterson Animal Control in Paterson, N.J., he was stunned.

Gerstein said Bella was shaking and wagging her tail when he first picked her up. "She definitely remembered me," Gerstein said.

The next day, they flew home for a happy reunion with the rest of the family, including Dori's sister Heather Bosch and her children Cole, 14, and Jenna, 9, who also live with the Gersteins at their home in West Delray Beach near U.S. 441 and West Atlantic Avenue.

"She wouldn't stop kissing me, and she's not a big kisser," Dori Gerstein said. They also took Bella to the veterinarian, who determined she was in good health.

Angel Rivera, an animal control officer at Paterson Animal Control, said a young woman had found Bella wandering on a busy thoroughfare in Paterson early last week and brought her to the shelter. 

Rivera checked the microchip and found it was registered through Petkey. He called Petkey, who sent the email to Gerstein, instructing him to call the animal shelter.

By sending a picture and confirming the microchip's ID number, Gerstein and Rivera were able to confirm that the dog was indeed Bella.

"I was shocked, he was shocked," said Rivera, 37.

Rivera said that had the shelter not found the owner within seven days, Bella would've been adopted out. He recommended that pet owners not only invest in a microchip but also register the microchip.

"In my 12 years here, I've never seen anything like this," Rivera said, barely able to believe that a dog missing for three years and from 1,200 miles away had been reunited with its owner.

Gerstein also said he's been in touch with another woman in Paterson who contacted him after Bella was found. She told him she discovered the Facebook page about Bella and told him that Bella — her family had named the dog Linda, coincidentally, the Spanish equivalent of Bella, meaning pretty or beautiful — had been living with her in Paterson.

She sent Gerstein pictures of the dog while it had been living with them. She explained that somebody had given her the dog in January, and that she and her family had grown to love her. But then Bella escaped under a fence and the woman never saw her again.

Bill Gerstein asked the woman who had given her the dog and tried to find out more in hopes of learning more about where Bella had been since December 2013, but he got murky answers and decided to let it go. After all, it didn't matter anymore. Bella was home. Dori Gerstein said they were grateful that the woman took care of her.

Both Bill and Dori accept that they'll probably never know how Bella got to New Jersey.

"If only she could talk," Bill Gerstein said.

brettclarkson@sun-sentinel.com or Twitter @BrettClarkson_
Copyright © 2016, Sun Sentinel

Disney announces new Christmas drone show to light up the skies this winter

DISNEY will send 300 drones into the air every night over Orlando this winter to create a spectacular Christmas-themed light show in the night skies.

The entertainment giant is using 300 Shooting Star drones, specially designed to fly in unison with others, for its new attraction.

The drones –  which will replace part of the traditional fireworks show – will all be controlled by a single operator.

Tech giant Intel unveiled the tiny drone earlier this month after a flying 500 simultaneously in Germany breaking the Guinness Book of World Records for most drones operated one person.

And now that the Federal Aviation Administration has given Disney the green light to fly the machines at night – normally illegal in the US.

Holly Dunn, 59, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies

Holly Dunn, a country singer who wrote the hit “Daddy’s Hands” as a Father’s Day gift for her preacher father and whose song “Maybe I Mean Yes” provoked a national conversation about date rape, died on Monday in Albuquerque. She was 59.

The cause was ovarian cancer, said her nephew, Daniel Dunn, the mayor of Temple, Tex.

Ms. Dunn’s wistful “Daddy’s Hands” won two Grammy nominations (best female country vocal performance and best country song) in 1987, and her “Are You Ever Gonna Love Me” and “You Really Had Me Going” (both written with her brother Chris Waters Dunn and Tom Shapiro) reached No. 1 on the country charts, in 1989 and 1990.