In Astra: A thrilling sci-fi podcast not to be missed

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“Brainwashing, memory erasure, and false identities—these are the forces Joaquin Moreno must fight to solve a terrifying mystery sweeping his entire school. Can he do it all on his own? Because there’s something watching from the stars. And it’s getting closer and closer…”

This is just a taste of what the world “In Astra”, a thrilling sci-fi podcast, offers its listeners. Written by University of Northern Colorado student Bee Dellepiane, the podcast just wrapped up its first season with praise and fantastic reviews. 

Reviews came pouring through each week as new episodes were released.

“A grounded mystery that makes you feel like you are actually with the interesting protagonist.”

“So impressed with this project! Both the auditory effects and character trajectories are deep, intricate, and surprising. The themes are incorporated effortlessly and I love the subtleties on the passage of time and the complexity of mental health. The voice acting is astounding!”

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Taken from the Press Kit of “In Astra,” it is described as “a science-fiction/mystery podcast focusing on themes of trust, identity, loneliness, and mental health. It follows cynical teen Joaquin Moreno, who’s stuck at Delphic Peak Preparatory School—a stuffy elite boarding school offering him a lot of scholarship money for reasons he can’t fathom. But before he can reluctantly settle into his new life, a bizarre and unsettling incident seems to have left everyone at Delphic Peak brainwashed—that is, everyone except him. Told through a series of therapist-assigned voice diaries, Joaquin needs to take action quickly and stealthily if he wants to save his roommate’s life. But there’s something bigger going on. A cosmic force is keeping a watchful eye over Delphic Peak. And Joaquin better hope it’s on his side.”

A labor of love and commitment, the podcast came to life under Dellepiane’s genius writing, and a year and a half of dedication.

“I was feeling really inspired by a bunch of amazing podcasts I love listening to, and I thought ‘What if I did something like this?’” said Dellepiane, a senior musical theatre major. “I’ve always been into writing, but I had never taken on a major writing project before due to fear, insecurity, etc. so I became determined to take the leap and just do the damn thing. From conception to the release of the season finale, it took just about a year and a half.”

For Dellepiane, this was their very first podcast and first long-term project. “In Astra” involves an immersive and extremely challenging audio. Utilizing multiple characters, sound effects and distortion of voices are only a few of the many components that bring this thrilling story to life. But the challenges did not deter Dellepiane in the slightest.

“I learned A LOT about audio editing because I sort of just threw myself right into the deep end,” Dellepiane said.” I also learned that I can obtain plenty of new skills if I’m willing to put in the work…and also probably cry a few times! I developed these skills pretty much entirely on the job, and I owe my life to YouTube tutorials, which got me started and helped me every time I had questions or problems with my audio.”

Something special about “In Astra” is that it features the voice talents of many UNC students and faculty from the School of Theatre Arts and Dance. Many of the actors had cameo or full season roles and Dellepiane is grateful for the help and support they have  given throughout this process.

“It was GREAT!” Dellepiane said. “I loved working with my friends and my professors to bring this story to life, and their talent constantly blows me away. They really brought something special to these characters that I never could have come up with on my own, and I’m so grateful to them for it.”

Although COVID-19 restrictions made it hard to have normal recording sessions, as always, the show still went on!

“Once COVID hit, it made it a lot harder to record, but they all handled the changes graciously and gave some killer performances,” Dellepiane said. “I can’t WAIT to start working with them all again.”

Representation within the characters of “In Astra” was very important to Dellepiane. To them, it was a way to reflect all different identities and ethnicities, especially those that are not reflected often in the media.

“One of the biggest things I wanted to accomplish was to create the type of story and characters I wish I’d seen growing up” Dellepiane said.“It was really important to me that ‘In Astra’ represented queer people, people of color, people who struggle with mental illness—and represented them well. These identities don’t make up the entirety of each character, but they have an undeniable effect on the way they navigate the world and the story. I really hope that people who don’t often see themselves in the media they consume can listen to ‘In Astra’ and think ‘Wow… that person’s like me’—while enjoying it for its spooky fun sci-fi too, of course.”

When asked about the future of “In Astra”, Dellepiane is set to go on to the next season.

“Oh, there’ll be a Season Two alright!” Dellepiane said. “It’s being developed and written as we speak! With any luck, I’m hoping it can premiere within the next calendar year. Get ready!” 

“In Astra” can be streamed free to Spotify and Apple podcast users, as well as all major podcast sites. You can also find out the latest and upcoming news at @InAstraPodcast on Instagram.

Transcripts of podcasts, information about the creative team/cast and more can be found at: https://inastrapodcast.podbean.com/

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