Making waves: 2fm’s Stephen Byrne revisits his Leaving Cert

HAVING sometimes experienced panic attacks over recent years, 2fm presenter Stephen Byrne is very aware of the importance of exercise to his mental and physical well being, he tells Esther McCarthy.

Exercising is a huge help in keeping them at bay, he says. “It’s the best way for me to prevent panic attacks. Good endorphins make me feel good about working towards a goal. Exercising is completely the best way of managing it. It’s a very big positive but the [downside] is you feel bad if you don’t do it.”

Stephen, 28, has been in the media industry for over a decade, having become a YouTube star when he was 16. The Dublin native has presented RTÉ’s TwoTube and The Voice of Ireland as well as The Leaving Cert, an RTÉ documentary which saw him recently return to school to repeat the State exams. “I did the Leaving Cert when I was younger but I never opened my results, I shredded them. I wanted to shine a light on what they can do to the mental health of young people. And to return, step back, to the person I was when I was 19 and connect with that kid.”

He frequently flies abroad to interview famous faces for work. “This month alone I have 12 trips to London with people like Little Mix and Steve Carell. It’s great but it’s very busy and you have to take care of yourself.”

Byrne is an ambassador for Bus Éireann’s Go Places competition 2018/19, an initiative which encourages transition-year students to express their creativity by capturing memories of their school journey.

n The Stephen Byrne Show is on 2FM every Saturday and Sunday from 1pm-4pm.

What shape are you in?

I try to work out three days a week, but I travel a lot so it can be difficult. I try to maintain a healthy level of working out. It puts me in good shape mentally and physically.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I’m on the road so much, I find I don’t have time to cook and can end up snacking. I use a meal preparation service just so I know I’m eating the correct food. I would eat healthily enough, you feel so much better. Good fresh food is the best thing.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

I love a pizza. I love just ordering a massive pizza and eating it all. I’m a bit of a freak — I love anchovies as a topping. That and a big bag of sweets. I’m either one way or the other — really healthy or falling into the depths of carbs and sugar.

What would keep you awake at night?

Work. I’m a sucker for coming up with ideas and thinking of things late in the evening. I don’t get to sleep until 3am most nights which is something I really need to fix. Sometimes I oversleep to compensate.

How do you relax?

I love just switching on Fifa and playing for two or three hours on my PlayStation. People are usually surprised — they see me as neither a gamer nor a football fan. Gaming holds my concentration and helps me relax.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I would love to sit at a table with Freddie Mercury, Prince, Roisin Murphy, and my sister Lisa. That would be a whopper party!

What’s your favourite smell?

That would be my grandmother’s scones. She lives in a house that’s attached to my parents’ house, I love when the smell floats in.

What would you change about your appearance?

I like changing my hair when I’m bored. But this is a time in my life when I feel comfortable in my skin. I’ve got a confidence I definitely didn’t have in the last couple of years. I’m gay, and in the gay world there is a pressure on guys to fit a certain mould. It was a pressure I felt for a couple of years but now I feel like I’m happy with the way I am.

When did you last cry?

I am a crier. I do love a good cry. Two weeks ago I was having a chat with a friend. We’d had a disagreement and I cried. I’m very in touch with my emotions — I definitely cried during the Leaving Cert!

What traits do you least like in others?

Dishonesty. Not being able to trust someone is the most difficult thing.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I don’t like the fact that I worry too much about what other people think. I’d get very insecure about the idea that people don’t think I’m a good person.

Do you pray?

I don’t. I used to, but I wouldn’t have an affiliation with the church. But I’d have an affinity with spirituality and good karma.

What would cheer up your day?

I love a good hug. Especially from my mum Claire.

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