kim’s kitchen

Make this sweet and savory meat treat

Posted 8/23/23

Paul Ciliberto was 15 years old when he decided exactly what he wanted to do with his life.

 Standing on the street in Duryea, PA, he stared in wonder through the window of the local radio …

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kim’s kitchen

Make this sweet and savory meat treat


Paul Ciliberto was 15 years old when he decided exactly what he wanted to do with his life.

 Standing on the street in Duryea, PA, he stared in wonder through the window of the local radio station, awed by the sight of the DJ at work.

 “I’m gonna be a disc jockey!” he proudly announced at home later.

 “Oh, Paul,” his aunt replied, her voice choked with sympathy, “you’re too heavy. You’ll break the horse’s back.”

 Now—more than a few moons later—Paul has moved his flagship “Ciliberto & Friends”  show from Thunder 102 to Bold Gold Media’s brand-new Catskills News Talk 92.5 and 94.9 FM (as well as 1240 AM).

 It’s the next logical step for a show that’s been evolving for nearly 18 years.

 “It’s a basic talk format, but it’s news talk,” Ciliberto explains. “We perceived a void in the market for news in the community.”

 Bold Gold Media General Manager Dawn Ciorciari agrees. And she knew “Ciliberto & Friends” would be the perfect anchor for the new stations.

 “Paul created an amazing platform on Thunder 102,” she says. “It expanded so much, it had outgrown the music. It needed its own place on the dial.”

 Moving over with Ciliberto are the friends listeners have known for years. These include District Attorney Brian Conaty, Jim Boxberger from Monticello Farm Home and Garden, and Lindsay Wheat of Sullivan 180.

 Oh, and of course, the irrepressible Jonathan Charles Fox will be there as well. And he has his own theory as to why.

 “I believe Bold Gold Media was looking for a way that I could talk even more than before,” Fox explains with a glint in his eye. “By moving to an all-talk radio format, they’ve positioned me to never shut up. No music equals more Jonathan Charles Fox. I’m pretty sure that’s why it happened.”

 Need we add that Jonathan’s dog Gidget is in total agreement?

 In addition to “Ciliberto & Friends,” Catskills News Talk also features “Catskills News,” hosted by legendary radio personality Mike Sakell, airing both mornings and afternoons. Sakell has been a staple on the airwaves for 43 years.

 “Our biggest focus is variety,” Ciliberto points out, noting that there are car and pet shows included in the lineup.

 “The feedback has been great!” Ciliberto says.

 Ciorciari concurs.

 “People were really excited to know that there were so many good stories to tell,” she says. “There are so many positive things going on. We really needed to expand and tell people what’s happening. This gives us a chance to talk about more. It’s also a showcase for local talent.”

 So, if you’ve read this far, I’m betting you must be wondering: 

 What has any of this got to do with savory meat—particularly SPAM?

 I’m glad you asked.

 Enter Paul Ciliberto’s office, and you can’t help but notice that he is surrounded by cans of SPAM. Plus, he proudly displays his SPAM socks and his SPAM holiday ornament.

 It all started when Ciliberto casually mentioned on the air that he liked SPAM.

 “It just randomly came up,” he says with a shrug.

 Suddenly, the show was flooded with messages. There were cheers from folks who love SPAM. There were jeers from those who hate it.

 And then there were communications from people who had never even tried it.

 Before long, listeners were dropping off cans of SPAM at the radio station (most of which is donated to local food pantries).

 Dawn Ciorciari believes that this is proof of the magic that still exists in radio.

 “You take a simple thing like SPAM and have fun,” she marvels, “but you can weave important information in with the jokes.”

 The highlight—or the bottom of the barrel, depending on your taste—occurred when Ciliberto joked on air that he’d love a painting of Jim Wilson in a kilt holding up a can of SPAM. (Wilson, who owns the Callicoon Brewing Company in Callicoon, NY, is a frequent Ciliberto guest—and a prime mover in keeping the SPAM jokes running.)

 Sure enough, at my very next Sip & Paint class, Jim requested that I sketch out just that—his portrait in a kilt, holding up a can of SPAM. He had a friend come in to actually paint it. We then arrived unannounced at the radio station and presented Ciliberto with this one-of-a-kind work of art.

 In addition, we gave him samples of the chocolate-covered SPAM featured as this month’s project.

 When Paul tasted the samples, I knew I had a winner.

 “I was shocked by how good the chocolate-covered SPAM was,” he says now.

 My husband Fleck, a SPAM guy since he was a kid—he even used to fold cubed-and-browned SPAM into his homemade holiday stuffing—agreed.

 “I could turn my life over to this!” he announced when I asked him to test this new confection.

 Now, you can taste it for yourself. If the very idea of SPAM frightens you, don’t worry; you can try it with some other savory meat. (Bacon, for example, is absolutely excellent.)

 And, as always, feel free to experiment with the type of chocolate you use. Or the types of toppings. These treats come together easily and taste absolutely delicious, so make ‘em, serve ‘em, eat ‘em—and then make some more!

 And don’t forget to listen to “Ciliberto & Friends,” 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekday mornings on Catskills News Talk radio.

 Kim M. Simons is an artist, cake artist and food artist. She has competed on numerous Food Network shows, winning “Holiday Wars” and “Cake Wars: Star Wars.” She is proud to have been voted “Best Local Celebrity, 2022” by the readers of the River Reporter. Kim is available to teach classes individually and in groups. Visit Kim’s website:

paul cilberto, kims kitchen, cake wars


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