The head of the Federal Communications Commission doesn't often deal in matters of outer space. But Wheeler, President Obama's nominee for the position, has given it some thought. "NASA was like the Bell Labs of space," he wrote on his personal blog in 2010, comparing the space agency to AT&T's in-house research-and-development outfit. "To continue a command-and-control model … is not in the best interest of NASA, however."
What Wheeler wants to see is the space-exploration business made competitive, and the same goes for the communications field. Wheeler has spent his career in the business, having worked for several years lobbying for the cable and wireless industries. He was also a significant bundler for President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the incumbent.
Wheeler, 67, enjoys broad support in Washington. The Ohio State University graduate has worked as a venture capitalist at Core Capital Partners, as a member of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, and as a member of the board at PBS.
In 1976, Wheeler assumed control of the National Cable Television Association, where he served as president and CEO until 1984. In 1992, he took the helm of what became, after his departure in 2003, CTIA—The Wireless Association. Wheeler is a former chairman of the Foundation for the National Archives, and he was appointed in 2009 to lead President Obama's transition team on science, space, technology, and the arts (Wheeler had previously been tapped by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush as a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he served for 12 years).
That same year, Wheeler was named to the Cable Hall of Fame. He is also considered one of the cable industry's 20 most influential people in the history of the business, an honor he was given in 1995 by Cablevision magazine.
Wheeler, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, is also a prolific writer. He has written two books—one describing the way President Lincoln used the telegraph to his advantage in the Civil War—and has been published in The Washington Post, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times. And, of course, there is his blog, which remains publicly accessible online.