He has produced and directed award-winning radio programs. His work in the late 1970s included the alternative news features, News Blimps, and music documentaries for WLIR, where he was production director and on-air personality. In the 1980s, Manilla created news documentaries for WOR-Department of Administration and Management, and helped develop programs at Radio Today, New York, including Flashback, Rock Stars with Timothy White, and Radio Music Television. In 1991, he moved to San Francisco and started Ben Manilla Productions which created national radio series including The House of Blues Radio Hour with Dan Aykroyd(with whom Manilla co-wrote the book Elwood"s Blues: Interviews with the Blues Legends & Stars), Philosophy Talk with Stanford University, The Loose Leaf Book Company with Tom Bodett (syndicated to 227 stations with an audience of 250,000), and The Sounds of American Culture on National Public Radio"s All Things Considered.
In 2003, he formed the multi-platform production and consulting company Media Mechanics with broadcast veterans Mike Henry and Paul Marszalek.
Since 2005, Manilla has been an instructor at University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism where he teaches Radio News Reporting. Manilla was born in 1952 to James Nicholson Manilla and Margarita Fernandez Manilla.
He grew up in New York City and attended New York University, where he graduated with a drama degree. He now lives in San Francisco.