Before joining at KNBC, Avila was political reporter and anchor at WBBM-TV, the CBS owned station in Chicago, covering a variety of news stories of local, national and international importance, including the Persian Gulf War from both Saudi Arabia and Tel Aviv. Among his notable stories for WBBM-TV were the Beirut War, the TWA hijacking, the Nicaraguan civil war and the Mexican earthquake. From 1980 to 1984 he was a general assignment reporter for WLS, the ABC owned station in Chicago. Prior to that, he was a weekend anchor and the San Jose bureau chief for KPIX in San Francisco from 1976 to 1980. He began his broadcast career at KCBS Radio in San Francisco in 1973 as managing editor, and was later promoted to bureau chief.