Washington, D.C.--It is casual Friday at the Federal Communications Commission. Michael K. Powell, the nation's communications czar, is dressed in a cardigan sweater and a preppy dark turtleneck. This studied informality contrasts with the seriousness with which Powell regards the chairmanship's job that President George W. Bush entrusted him with last January. "The FCC's portfolio is breathtaking," Powell notes. "We oversee the entire telephone, wireless telephone, wireless, satellite, cable, television, great chunks of what we call the Internet--all of which are amid the most profound revolutions in history."
The lot of the $950-billion communications industry hangs on the signals emanating from the eighth-floor office of the agency's glistening glass and brick headquarters, a short jog from Congress and the White House. CEOs and lobbyists faithfully trek to pay homage to Powell as part of the $125 million spent annually on lobbying by the communications industry. "A day in the life of the FCC," Powell admits, "is listening to company after company argue for policy changes in their self-interest."
This article was originally published with the title Telecom's Man of the Moment.