by Anthony Vassallo
Teachers and students may have recognized his name, his face and his voice, but they didn’t yet recognize that HCTV’s executive producer, Teddy Byrne was paving his way towards success.
Byrne, who is 22 years old, attends Ithaca College as a television-radio major. Growing up in Bayside Queens, he had a very supportive family around him, which included his mother, father and grandparents.
His grandmother passed away when he was in the fifth grade, which made him closer to his grandfather. One-on-one dinners between the two became a weekly occurrence.
“We’d talk anything from sports to politics, to the way his world was when he was my age,” says Byrne. He added that having a third guardian at home, “gives you another person to relate to.”
Byrne attended Catholic school his entire life until he decided to go to Ithaca College back in 2017. He credits this as being one of the many blessings in his life, but this doesn’t mean he was a stranger to struggle.
At just five years old, Byrne was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. “I’ve never let it define who I am,” says Byrne.
This slight difference to other kids his age was all it took for Byrne to be a subject of bullying. The worst of it came during elementary and middle school. Byrne said, “It put a bit of a chip on my shoulder, especially in the early elementary school years.”
For the beginning of his life, Byrne wasn’t around many people who shared the same interests as him. This would all change his freshman year at Holy Cross High School. From the very beginning of his freshman year, Byrne became very involved with the school’s television program, HCTV.
For the majority of Byrne’s freshman year, he was the apprentice of the executive producer at HCTV. By the end of the year, for the first time in school history, a freshman was named the executive producer of the school’s TV station. “It’s an incredible responsibility to throw on a freshman, that’s why it didn’t happen very often,” said Byrne.
Just as his HCTV journey began, Byrne met Gregg Sullivan, who was a former technical director for CBS. When Sullivan returned to his hometown of Bayside, he founded an organization called Bayside LiveTV. Byrne began to help Sullivan with Bayside LiveTV, and Sullivan returned the favor by teaching him how to succeed in the field of video production.
“He kinda took me on, and took me under his wing,” said Byrne. “He really taught me a lot about video editing, how to shoot things properly, how to tell a story.” He added, “At the same time, I got to shape this company that exists to this day, and form a really deep relationship with this guy, he’s like family at this point.”
There weren’t many teenagers with a gray-haired gold-hearted friend like Sullivan, and Byrne took advantage of this.
Byrne said, “A lot of my friends from my high school would say I’m full of myself.” He added, “Since high school, I’ve felt very confident, I've never wanted to be a jerk about it I’ve really only wanted to help people.”
Thomas Kostic, playwriting and screenwriting major at SUNY Purchase, became familiar with Byrne while working with him at HCTV his freshman year.
Their friendship would begin to really develop after they went to see a pro wrestling show together at Madison Square Garden.
While explaining his experience with Byrne at HCTV Kostic said, “We were good friends and worked really hard together.”
Kostic witnessed Byrne’s work ethic during high school. ''He's doing all these like AP classes or honor classes while announcing the basketball games, TV, he's helping out at masses, he’s doing a lot of stuff, but he’d managed to get it done.”
The two of them would work tirelessly on the weekdays, often leading to late nights and little amounts of sleep. “One or two nights we closed the school after the janitors had left,” says Kostic. “We would stay and edit for hours and hours because we wanted a good show.”
Byrne carried this work ethic with him into college, landing a spot with ICTV as a freshman. Despite his high school success, Byrne said, “In college, I almost felt like there is no way I should be in this position.”
History would soon repeat itself; in the middle of Byrne’s freshman year of college, he was promoted to being one of the executive producers for an ICTV show, Good Day Ithaca. “That shocked me,” said Byrne, who had felt like a fish out of water at the beginning of the year, but now he was one of the biggest in the pond.
Unlike in high school, Byrne was eager to keep his youth as lowkey as possible. “I was very careful not to mention my class year so that people wouldn’t know,” said Byrne. He didn’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable that a freshman had such a highly regarded position.
Most young adults find it awkward, or annoying to ask questions, but this was exactly what propelled Byrne into his early success. “If I wasn't confident about something, I’d ask people, I wasn't afraid to say to someone ‘look I’m still really new to this,’” said Byrne. “I learned because I asked questions and if I didn’t find an answer there, I’d look for it online”
Chiara Osborne, a sophomore dance and museum studies major at Nazareth College, reflected on how Teddy has influenced her.
“Teddy had a really big influence on me creatively," said Osborne. "He was the first person I had met who was really into an art and wanted to pursue it.”
Osborne and Byrne met when she joined All Saints Episcopal Church, where Byrne’s father is the rector, when she was 12 years old and Byrne was 15 years old.
Whoever got close to Byrne was well aware of his unstoppable push towards success. Ryan Caiola, one of Byrne’s close friends during high school, wrote to me in an email about the influence Byrne has on him when he plays hockey for Anna Maria College, in Massachusetts.
“It can never be good enough, it can always be better," said Caiola. "When I’m on the ice I always go back to our late nights in the studio just working on videos seeing how it can be better, and then perfect it.”
Before his career takes off, Byrne said how he wishes to be remembered.
“Someone passionate about what he was doing, and really knew what he was doing, but always wanted to try and help others with that knowledge,” said Byrne. “Being a person, you can call on to say how do you do this? or do you have an idea about this? I think I’d like to be remembered as someone like that.”