True Story

A journalist’s popular podcast is now the hit series “The Shrink Next Door.”

A photo of Khrista Rypl ’09
Photo by Michael Nagin

For Khrista Rypl ’09, an English major at Rice, a story and its medium go hand in hand. But after her first exposure to a new style of storytelling, she made a shift and launched a self-taught career in podcasting.

A lifelong NPR listener, Rypl was living in Florida after she graduated when, one evening, she tuned into her local radio station to hear a program called “State of the Re:Union.” The show used interviews, spoken-word pieces, first-person narratives, music and more to tell the story of American communities.

“I was like, ‘Whoa. I’ve never heard anything like this. That’s what I want to do,’” Rypl recalls.

From there she began to teach herself the craft of audio production, storytelling and writing for radio through internships, classes and boots-on-the-ground experience. “In a lot of ways, I had to learn how to write again when I started writing for radio,” she says. “Writing for the ear is totally different.”

After a decade of work with the likes of ESPN, The Atlantic, American Public Media and WNYC Radio, Rypl was offered an opportunity to produce a new show on the “mind-boggling” story of how a famous New York psychologist, Isaac Herschkopf, exploited his millionaire patient, Martin “Marty” Markowitz, for decades. The project, dubbed “The Shrink Next Door,” produced by Bloomberg and Wondery, turned out to be her biggest byline to date.

Rypl, who currently resides in Brooklyn, served as the senior producer on the project, coordinating recordings, writing scripts and even interviewing sources like Markowitz about Herschkopf’s misconduct — actions that would lead to him being forced to surrender his medical license in 2021. The podcast was met with fascination, horror and praise from listeners.

“It’s a true crime show, but it’s true crime where no one has to die,” Rypl says. “I think a lot of people loved that it had all of the twists and turns and interesting storytelling, but [they] could also know by the fact that he was a voice in the story that Marty was okay.”

Television producers took note too, and “The Shrink Next Door” was picked up by Apple TV in 2020, debuting last November. Stars such as Paul Rudd playing Herschkopf and Will Ferrell as Markowitz brought in watchers, curious new listeners and even new follow-up episodes of the original podcast.

Now as a senior producer with Sony Podcasts, Rypl has more original projects in the works. Her next series is about the fertility industry as told through the lives of a number of donor-conceived people. “It’s been cool to see that there is such a greater reverence for [podcasting] now. There are things that audio does that no other medium can do.”

— Laura Furr Mericas