Chief Economist, David Waterman

By Mona Malacane

Retired life has been pretty exciting for David Waterman. On November 13 Federal Communications Commission’s Chairman Wheeler announced David’s appointment as FCC’s Chief Economist.

David has published for years in the area of economics of telecommunications and media ( here is an earlier blog post), and has consulted for the FCC in the past (as well as the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice); so being considered for the appointment wasn’t a complete surprise for him. He knew for some time that he was the shortlist for the appointment and had spent a day interviewing at the FCC earlier this year. Although David had gotten to know quite a few people who work at FCC through annual conferences, David thinks that the opportunity was mostly about being in the right place at the right time, given the media-related issues coming up at the commission next year.

FCC-building

Humble in his usual ways, David explained, “It’s not as important as it sounds. Even though they call me the Chief Economist, I don’t actually have any real power. There is a large staff of economists at the FCC and I’m sort of, theoretically, at the head of that staff. And part of my job is to promote economics in the commission and encourage publishable research by the staff … but I’m actually not in charge of administering anyone. It is like academia in that I can choose what I work on and although I report directly to Tom Wheeler [the chairman of the commission] and that’s a great opportunity, he chooses whether or not to listen to me.” Considering this is his life’s work, David is, as you might expect, looking forward to his new role at the FCC. After interviewing him a few times for the blog, I have to say this is the most I have ever seen David smile!

The appointment term is for one year beginning January 5.th David will be living in Washington and was still searching for somewhere to live when I interviewed him before the Thanksgiving break. He won’t be far from family though because his daughter, Chloe, works in DC for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – another perk that David is looking forward to. “She is going to help keep me anchored and from going crazy so that really makes a big difference.” I was very concerned that his beautiful garden would suffer without his attention and care, but don’t worry! David plans to leave detailed instructions for his son Matthew, who will be staying in Bloomington, to care for his peppers while he is away.

#relieved

#relieved

Before our interview ended, David wanted to recognize Ryland Sherman and the work they have done together. “It’s been the flair coming from his understanding of technology and the law that I think attracted the attention of the Commission, so that’s been a very valuable thing.”

 

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