Meet Mehvish Buch, the first female outdoor broadcasting engineer in the television space
Engineer Mehvish Buch operates an OB van
As a child, Mehvish Buch, 23, loved television, but not in the way one would presume. "I was curious about how electrical signals are converted into visual images. I wanted to understand the science behind it and how it all came together to produce what we see on screen," she says. The curiosity eventually led her to sign up for a BTech in electronics and communication from Haryana's Maharshi Dayanand University, followed by a PG diploma course in broadcast journalism from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. And now, Buch has become the first female outdoor broadcasting (OB) engineer to be recruited by business channel BTVi, a pilot move in the broadcasting industry.
At a time when women have managed to crack most glass ceilings, outdoor broadcasting remains a less explored space. "OB engineering is essentially a highly technical job. It involves taking the apparatus of broadcasting, including camera, sound, video/audio mixing, away from the studio and using it in a remote environment. Let's assume there's a press conference in Colaba and we want to cover it live. The OB van has a satellite dish on the roof that operates as a link to the studio," says Vaibhav Tiwari, vice-president, operations and technology, at the channel. The idea of recruiting Buch emerged after the channel felt it was time they provided equal opportunities to both sexes. The response, he says, was overwhelming. "I did not expect 20 women to turn up for the interview," he laughs. Tiwari, however, ensured all the candidates were briefed about the nuances of the job. "The logistics requires patching and laying the route of cables which might run from the OB van right up to the 30th floor of a building," he says.
Buch was hired through a campus recruitment drive at Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia. "At the time, I did not think about whether I'd be the only woman in the space. For me, it was purely the joy of working in a field that has always fascinated me," she says. Originally from Kashmir, Buch says she was well aware of what the job would entail right from the long hours to braving all kinds of weather. "Fortunately, my parents were supportive of the idea. It's an outdoor job, where you have to be prepared to clock in hours that go beyond the regular 9 to 5 job," she says. OB engineering, she says, is edge-of-the-seat productions, where everything is live, right from sound, visuals, graphics and commentary are recorded, as it happens. "It's thrilling because it's live, which means you cannot afford to go wrong," she says. Currently, Buch is undergoing a three-week training at the channel to learn the ropes before she goes on ground.
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