Now that podcasting has been validated as a growing phenomenon, the race is on for business models. On Thursday, we talked to San Francisco consultant Sam Curtis Coutin, who’s launching a network Monday of sports podcasts. Coutin will seek sponsors for the shows and take advertising on his web site.

From our story in the Merc today:

“The nice thing about podcasting is the narrow-casting of it,” Coutin said. “If I listen to (Bay Area sports station) KNBR, they talk about all sports. With podcasting, you can preselect the sport based on your interests.'”

The Sports Podcast Network will feature a selection of shows each focused on a separate sport or team. Coutin is starting with basketball, football, baseball and sports culture. Another podcast — hosted by a coach in Philadelphia — will focus on coaching.

Coutin hopes to add shows about golf, tennis, hockey and cycling, and to “drill down” the sports food chain to college sports and teams.

Coutin’s is not the first podcast network on the scene. And observers expect many more to crop up as entrepreneurs seek ways to capitalize on the trend toward personalized, time-shifted radio.