Albie Hecht has been named EVP and GM of HLN, effective September 30. Hecht, who founded Spike TV and was president of Nickelodeon Entertainment prior to that, is currently CEO of Worldwide Biggies, a digital entertainment studio. Scot Safon is the guy he’s replacing. Safon, a  22-year Turner Broadcasting vet — half of them at HLN — was out at the end of last month as part of a restructuring of HLN-parent CNN by its Worldwide president Jeff Zucker.  As HLN’s new leader, Hecht will oversee all aspects of HLN’s programming, management, day-to-day operations, as well as HLNtv.com. He will be based in New York and report to  Zucker, who made today’s announcement:

“Albie is one of the most creative executives in our industry. His diverse experiences at Viacom gave him a keen understanding of cable television, where he created some of media’s most well known brands and franchises. All of that, coupled with his lifelong passion for news and information, makes him the perfect fit for HLN,” said Zucker. “I wanted someone who could build off the strength that currently exists at HLN, which is enjoying one of its highest rated years ever, and evolve the network and its fast-growing digital properties even more.”

“Three key factors made the decision to join HLN easy: the opportunity to further evolve a noted brand, reinvent news in a digital age and work for Jeff, an industry giant,” said Hecht.  “Creating engaging and buzzed about content across multiple platforms is in my DNA, and I am excited to make magic with the talented team at HLN.”

A veteran of MTV Networks, Hecht led the transition and rebranding of the former Nashville Network to its current men’s network franchise, Spike TV. During his tenure as creator and president of Spike, he was responsible for signing the network’s ratings juggernaut Ultimate Fighting Championship. Prior, Hecht was president of Nickelodeon Entertainment and oversaw the development of the network’s hit series and films including SpongeBob SquarepantsDora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, the live action show All ThatThe Rugrats Movie (the first non-Disney animated movie to earn more than $100 million domestically) and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the latter which received an Oscar nomination.  A founding principal and executive producer for Chauncy Street Productions, Hecht also co-created Nickelodeon’s  highly successful Kids Choice Awards, a long running franchise which attracts A-list Hollywood talent.

Hecht’s  extensive career also includes a wide range of successful documentary and nonfiction projects through his non-profit Shine Global including producing this year’s Academy Award® winning short documentary Inocente, and War/Dance (2007) which was nominated for an Academy Award® and won an Emmy for Best Documentary.   Hecht most recently served as chief executive officer of Worldwide Biggies, a digital entertainment studio creating original IP for young adults and the digital family and was named to “Hollywood Reporter’s” Top 50 Digital Power Innovators in 2008.  Earlier in his career, Hecht was a manager of pop music acts and was an executive at Lifesong records.

In 2013, Hecht lent his skills to academia as the founding director of the New Media Lab at CUNY’s Macauley Honors College, the first public undergraduate media lab for the study and production of transmedia content.  On September 25, he will be inducted into the CableFAX 2013 Program Hall of Fame which honors those who create excellent content.