CBS News wanted to find out what makes 'Battle of the Brains' so successful after 45 years

Posted at 10:27 AM, May 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-10 12:14:18-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Student quiz shows have appeared on TV since the second half of the 20th century. CBS 6's "Battle of the Brains" is one of them.

Since 1978, the show, now hosted by CBS 6's Cheryl Miller, has challenged students and local viewers about their knowledge.

And it's such an iconic show, thatCBS News decided to profile the program.

Creating this 30-minute show on Saturday mornings takes long days of setup, planning and hard work.

"Somebody brought up the point that when we started 20 years ago, these kids are old enough to have kids on this show now!" said Miller.

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"The station has been committed to doing this, even during COVID. We did two seasons on zoom. So the commitment is here to serve the community," Miller added.

On this particular day, there's another TV crew in the studio asking the questions.

"These programs are so enriching to the community, yet they're going extinct across the country," said CBS News Reporter Scott MacFarlane.

He knows firsthand how important this locally-produced quiz show can be.

"I was a high school all-star, quiz bowl participant. And I would tell you, other than meeting my wife, it was the most important thing I ever did," MacFarlane said.

Battle of the Brains Executive Producer Patrick Porter said, "It's an opportunity for kids to compete that didn't necessarily do sports. They get to experience competition. They get to show off their academic chops if you will."

Part of the fun is in how the questions are phrased.

"They don't just say what's the capital of New York. Because that's not very enriching or exciting for the audience. They'll tell an anecdote about Albany and then cap the question with 'is also the capital of New York.' So everybody that's watching has learned something," said MacFarlane.

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CBS 6 Anchor Rob Cardwell speaks with CBS News Reporter Scott MacFarlane

And the fun can lead to so much more for the students.

"I got into studying art for the art questions. And now I want to, I plan on majoring in art history in college. So it's really given me insight into what I want to do," said Fort Defiance High School student, Kalen Murphy.

'Battle of the Brains' highlighted on CBS News 'under quiz show pressure' feature

Watch for Rob Cardwell's education feature stories on CBS 6 News and If you know someone Rob should profile, email him at

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